Quiche me like you mean it

After two weeks of traveling, I’m finding it nice to be home. And one of the surest signs that we’ve been on the road too much (and that I’m officially grown up) is that I got burnt out on fast food. Yes, I was craving salad and vegetables.

Of course, I do not need to be nudged too hard but the need for healthier fare hit like a craving. So, I was glad I had saved this quiche recipe for a post-travels dinner.

Sheet pan quiche ingredients.

It isn’t all healthy, what with an all-butter crust, cream cheese, and more cheese. But it was topped with my comfort food veggies, marinated artichokes and asparagus. And eggs, well, I think the jury is still out on whether they’re healthy or not. For the sake of this post, let’s say they’re a good source of protein.

Plus, I was happy to have another reason to make a pie crust in this year of sheet pan recipes.

The recipe was adapted from food blogging fave Smitten Kitchen. But I chose my favorite vegetables over spinach (which is a fine green!) and had to tweak to fit my size sheet pan (roughly 11×15 inch). All worked out perfectly and I found a relatively simple recipe I am sure I’ll be returning to again and again.

Look at those beautiful vegetables and that perfect crust.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

For crust:

  • 2 sticks butter
  • Scant 2 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough
  • 3 oz. ice water (I used a handy shot glass and shaker, don’t judge)
  • Salt, if desired

Or, feel free to roughly double your favorite pie crust.

For quiche filling:

  • 1 brick (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 c. half and half
  • 7 large eggs
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced white and light green parts
  • About ¾ bunch asparagus, ends removed and cut into about 1 ½ inch pieces
  • 1 (about 6 oz.) jar of marinated artichokes, drained
  • 1 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Oil, for coating

Directions

Prepare crust. Use a food processor, pastry blender, or hands to mix together the butter and flour until well blended. Add water slowly until dough forms. Pat into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for about an hour. When ready, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about ¼ inch thick and slightly larger than the size of your sheet pan. Carefully place the dough in the sheet pan and trim the edges as necessary. Freeze for about 20 minutes.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Then, when ready, pierce the cold dough throughout with a fork. Cover dough with a lightly oiled piece of aluminum foil. Add weights. (I forgot this step and all turned out fine.) Bake for about 20 minutes until partially done, and then remove foil (and any pie weights) and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes to lightly golden the crust.

Meanwhile, make the filling. I was lazy here and used my stand mixer, but do what works for you. Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl. Carefully add the half and half. Whisk in eggs one at a time, until combined. Stir in the scallions, cheeses, and salt and pepper.

Once crust is ready, pour on the egg mixture. Do not overtop the crust (this amount of egg mixture worked perfect for my sheet pan, but amounts and sheet pans vary). If you have extra, consider you’ve got breakfast in the morning.

Top egg mixture with asparagus pieces and quartered artichoke hearts.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees, and bake the quiche until the crust is fully golden and the eggy filling is set, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool for at least 10 minutes or until warmed to desired temperature, and enjoy!

On S’mores and stupid, stupid ideas

So, one year on a whim, and because it was summer, I made a S’mores pie to share with my sweets-loving family. It was so well received that I decided to do it again the next year.

Since I’m doing sheet pans this year, I wanted to try something different. Pretty early in the year, well before cookout season, I Googled to ensure that sheet pan S’mores recipes abounded. No surprise, they did.

My plan was set. When we had our Crippes clan get together, I would surprise everyone — particularly my cousin Madison who raves about the S’mores pie — with sheet pan S’mores.

Sheet pan S’mores ingredients, except I think I skipped the salt.

When I finally started looking before the mini-family reunion, I of course, saw several recipes that were simply laying graham crackers onto a sheet pan, topping with Hershey’s, and a marshmallow, and calling it good. I couldn’t do that. I had to impress. So, I found something that was a little more effort. A pseudo graham cracker crust, semi-sweet chocolate chips for ease of melting, and a beautiful broil to make the mallows just right.

What an idiot.

I was nervous from the outset. Despite following the recipe — a random site I won’t link to so as not to besmirch a recipe that didn’t work for me or to discredit them where I deviated slightly from the recipe — the crust didn’t seem like it came together all that well. Oh well, I said, once it bakes, it’ll probably be better. I baked it, and it looked fine. So far, so good.

Then, I added the chips, and let them sit. They didn’t melt well. Then, I put them back in the oven to melt better and for ease of spreading. No dice. OK, use up some more mini chips from my Aunt Sue’s supply. Give up on spreading when still nothing worked.

Finally, broil the marshmallows on top. Perfection.

Cut into the monstrosity I’d created, and &#*S@%#, the crust didn’t really work after all.

The good news is that no one cared. My aunt who is a professional caterer and foodie like myself gave encouraging tips and troubleshooting advice. My cousin Maddy couldn’t have been more pleased no matter how messy, and everyone else, enjoyed them as well.

I guess it turns out that no matter how badly you mess up S’mores, they’re impossible to screw up. For that, I’m quite grateful. But next time, I’ll stick to the campfire.

OK, OK, it looks pretty good, and OK, it tastes pretty good too. But it’s even more messy than the ones made by campfire.

Here’s what I did for any adventuring souls, or those who want to figure out what I did wrong:

Ingredients

  • 1 (13.5 oz.) box graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ c. (½ stick) unsalted butter
  • ½ t. cinnamon
  • ¼ c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ (~12 oz.) bags semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 36 marshmallows (they make square S’mores-specific ones now!)

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, butter, cinnamon, sugar, and the two eggs. Pour and press mixture into a large, rimmed sheet pan. Bake for about 10 minutes until golden.

Spread on the chocolate chip pieces, and allow to melt. Perhaps by putting in the oven if spreading isn’t going well?

Let cool for 30 minutes or until close to ready to serve.

Heat oven to broil.

Place marshmallows on top of the chocolate, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the mallows are cooked to desired brownness, watching constantly. Serve immediately, and enjoy the mess!

Creature comforts and pizza perfection

In my 30+ *coughcough* years, three things are definitely true about me: 1) I can procrastinate with the best of ‘em, 2) I’m a whinger, and 3) pizza can cure almost any complaint.

Christinia’s happy meal ingredients.

So, here I find myself traveling for the second week in a row, and still I waited until I’m literally in the car to be typing these words, grumpy that I didn’t do it sooner, and whiny about another long trek ahead; and yet, I’m already thinking about more pizza and drooling.

My recipe isn’t anything special. Betty Crocker’s homemade dough (doubled for the sheet pan recipe) because store-bought doesn’t cut it. Tomato paste instead of sauce because it’s heartier. Too much cheese because my mom’s Wisconsin roots were ingrained early. Toppings of onions, green peppers, and black olives because I like to pretend I am healthy, and because it’s a creature comfort when I order delivery. Basil and oregano because herbs make me feel classy.

But it’s the sort of recipe that I need when I feel extra whiny but also don’t hate myself enough to get fast food.

So, take this recipe as just Christinia’s comfort food, but make whatever pizza you need to get past your grumps or your pizza, booze, telly date night.

I feel better just looking at it.

Here’s my pizza of zen recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 Betty Crocker pizza crusts

  • 1 small can tomato paste

  • 3 c. shredded mozzarella

  • 1 small can sliced black olives, drained

  • 1 medium onion, chopped or sliced depending on my mood

  • 1 green pepper, chopped or sliced depending on my mood

  • 1 T. dried basil

  • 1 T. dried oregano

  • 1 t. garlic powder, optional

  • 1 t. onion powder, optional

  • Salt and pepper, optional and to taste

  • Olive oil, for a light coat on the sheet pan

  • Red pepper flakes, for serving, optional

Directions

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly coat a large sheet pan with olive oil.

Spread the pizza dough on the sheet pan. Top with the tomato paste. Sprinkle on the shredded cheese. Add olives, onions, and peppers. Sprinkle on the herbs and spices. I like to add another light spray of olive oil because I’m crazy but that’s totally optional.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the dough is cooked through and the cheese is lightly browned on top, and enjoy!

Pseudo Sue and sausages too

It’s the heart of summer, so I should be grilling brats. But I’ve got sheet pan recipes to fill, and anyway, beer brats taste better when you cook them in actual beer.

Sure, sure, I could simmer them with beer and then grill them, but that’s dirtying more dishes. And as I said, I’ve got sheet pans to fill.

There were several recipes online for how to make beer brats on a sheet pan, but I didn’t really like any of them. One even said to cook the beer brats on the stove with beer and then cook in the oven, but that’s more work than seemed necessary.

So, I just made something up, and readers, I have to say, I executed it perfectly.

Perhaps it was just the beer.

The extra nice thing about this is how easy it is to scale up or down. And fit any needs. I overdid it on the peppers and onions, but they made a tasty treat in scrambled eggs. We had potatoes on hand so why not have some roast potatoes as well.

Plus, I picked the best beer to suit my brats, Pseudo Sue, but any preferred brew will work.

All in all, it was pretty perfect. Even off the grill.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 4 to 8 brats

  • 1 (12 to 16 oz.) can of beer

  • 2 bell peppers, sliced

  • 2 onions sliced

  • 10 small golden potatoes, quartered (optional)

  • 2 to 4 T. grainy mustard, plus more for topping

  • Oil, for light coating

  • Buns

Directions

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat a large rimmed sheet pan with oil.

Place the onions, peppers, and potatoes, if using, on the sheet pan. Add brats so that the touch the sheet pan directly.

Top with beer and squirt on the mustard.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, turning halfway through, until beer is mostly evaporated and the brats are browned.

Serve with buns and additional mustard as desired, and enjoy!