Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mini Bacon & Swiss Quiche Cups

IMG_8870eThis month for the Improv Cooking Challenge our hostess Kristen of Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker has challenged the participating bloggers to make any recipe of their choosing using the specified ingredients of bacon and eggs!  My mind went off in so many directions with these ingredients, of course first thinking about breakfast and then going to the sweet side thinking about my Piggy-Out Cookies which contain bacon and eggs or my over the top Kicked Up Piggy-Out Cookies which also contain eggs along with my Spicy Brown Sugar Bacon…YUM!!  In the end though I decided to go the breakfast / brunch / anytime hold-it-in-your-hand, easy-to-reheat, great-on-the-go route with my Mini Bacon & Swiss Quiche Cups.   I love that I can bake up a batch of these, they can be eaten right away or saved for later as they reheat beautifully in the microwave.  Eammon likes when I have extra as I’ll freeze them so he can, pull out, reheat and enjoy one or two anytime he desires.  I hope that you’ll give these easy to make Mini Bacon & Swiss Quiche Cups a try.

IMG_8869eMini Bacon & Swiss Quiche Cups

5 slices bacon
1 brick (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
2 TBS milk (I used fat-free)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
2 medium green onions, chopped
1 can (12 oz) flaky refrigerated biscuits (10 biscuits)

Heat oven to 375F.  In a skillet cook the bacon until crisp and then drain on paper towels. Take two strips and cut each into 5 equal pieces.  Crumble the remaining three slices and set aside.  In a bowl the beat cream cheese until smooth. Add the milk and eggs, beating on low speed until smooth. Stir in the Swiss cheese and green onions. Set aside.

Spray 10 regular-sized muffin cups with cooking spray.  Separate the dough into 10 biscuits. Press biscuit to form a 5-inch round. Place one biscuit round in each muffin cup and firmly press into the bottom and up sides. Divide the crumbled bacon between the 10 dough lined muffin tins, placing it into the bottom of dough-lined muffin cups. Spoon the cheese mixture evenly into cups.  Bake 21 to 26 minutes or until filling is set and edges of biscuit cups are golden brown. Remove from the oven and into the top center of each Quiche Cup, stick a piece of the cut bacon for decoration.  Remove biscuit cups from pan and serve.

These do really well being reheated in the microwave so a great do-ahead breakfast meal-to-go.


My previous Improv Cooking Challenge entries:

March 2013  Carrots & Peas:  Mom’s Beef Vegetable Soup 
February 2013  Hearts & Flours:  Three Ingredient Fudgy Nutella Brownie Bites
January 2013  Bananas & Nutmeg:  Baked Bananas 
December 2012  Chocolate & Marshmallows:  White Chocolate Marshmallow Cranberry Cashew Bark    
November 2012  Sweet Potatoes & honey: Sweet Potato Glass Noodles with Honey Garlic Lime Shrimp 
October 2012  Oatmeal & RaisinsS’mores Granola Bars   
September 2012  Zucchini & Brown Sugar:  Zucchini with Onion & Brown Sugar 
August 2012  Tomatoes & Peppers:  French Fries Hash Browns 
July 2012  Corn & Butter:  Fritos Crusted Pollock 
June 2012  Cherries & Almonds:  Dried Cherry Almond Tart 
May 2012  Strawberries & Cream:  Strawberry Soup 
April 2012  Peanut butter & Jelly:  Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars 
March 2012  Potato & Cheese:  Loaded Potato & Buffalo Chicken Casserole 
February 2012  Ginger & Carrots:  Shrimp & Avocado Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing 
January 2012 Lemon & Sour Cream:  Ponderosa Lemon & Sour Cream Tart 
December 2011 Eggnog & Cranberries:  Eggnog Popovers with Cranberry Butter 
November 2011 Pumpkin & Cream Cheese:  Praline Pumpkin Cheesecake
October 2011 Caramel & Apples:  Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Bars ~ Gluten, Egg & Dairy Free

IMG_7006eYummy Pumpkin Pie Bars.  Cake-like on the top and bottom and chewy creamy in the middle.


April is National Soyfoods Month and I was contacted by Soyafoods* and asked to try and use their products in one of my recipes.  We use a number of soy products here in the Cook Lisa Cook house as we all adore edamame and go through a package in nothing flat.  Snacks like Sunrich Honey Nutz are always a favorite, especially for Maisie at school or at the gym where it gives her that extra protein and calories she needs to make it through her long gymnastics practices . I use tofu in a number of recipes and because Maisie’s allergic to milk, I often substitute soy milk for dairy milk when baking.  I was totally onboard with featuring a recipe which includes soy, in this case, Westsoy soy milk.  Today’s recipe is for some absolutely delicious Pumpkin Pie Bars, which are Maisie “safe” as they don’t contain any wheat, egg or dairy…but you’d never know that from the flavor.  These bars are sort of a cross between cake and pie because the top and bottom of the bars have the texture of cake and the middle has a nice moist and somewhat chewy creamy texture, not quite as custardy as pumpkin pie, but close.  The bars are simple to make and of course, totally delicious!!

IMG_6982eMaisie’s been cooped up at home for a the past few days, recovering from sinus surgery and avoiding our outrageous pollen counts so she was excited to help Mama cook, especially as the final product was for her!

IMG_6989e Licking the spatula is always a delicious treat.

IMG_6991eI love using my Slice Solutions Pan as it makes perfect portions.  One note though, when using this pan with the insert, it cooks faster than an undivided pan so you’ll have to adjust your cooking time depending on your oven and which pan you use. 

IMG_6994ePumpkin Pie Bars fresh from the oven, with the insert removed.

 IMG_6999eMaisie approved, Pumpkin Pie Bar success!!

IMG_7003ePumpkin Pie Bars ~ Gluten, Egg & Dairy Free

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray a 9 x 13-inch Slice Solutions Pan or baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the rice flour, tapioca flour, corn starch, xanthan gum, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking soda, flax seed, brown sugar and granulated sugar.  With the mixer on low, slowly add the soy milk, oil and lemon juice.  Once the wet ingredients are fully incorporated, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the pumpkin puree.  Mix on low until fully incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Add the Slice Solutions Pan insert and then bake for 50-60 minutes until the tops of the bars are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the bars comes out clean.  (Note, when I cook with the Slice Solutions Pan my baked goods cook faster so if just using a regular undivided pan, your baking time could be as much as 30 minutes longer so keep checking to make sure that your bars aren’t over or under baked.)


April is National Soyfoods Month so it’s the perfect time to learn about the place for soy in a healthy diet and easy ways to incorporate it into everyday meals.  Packed with protein and fiber, soyfoods are a tasty way to reduce calories, saturated fat and maintain your weight.  Many soy products like veggie burgers cook and thaw faster than traditional meat sources so that means more time and convenience—who couldn’t use more of both?

The Soyfoods Association of North America (SANA) provides information about the health benefits and nutritional advantages of soy. SANA offers fun recipes and convenient ways to incorporate soy into meals for everyone – from athletes to families. SANA is dedicated to spreading the word about soy, especially during National Soyfoods Month in April!  Here are just a few ways that soy can help make your life easier and healthier: Take this mixed berry smoothie up a notch with creamy and delicious WESTSOY Soymilk made from whole organic soybeans: Berry Smoothie WESTSOY Soymilk.  Need a snack on-the-go? Grab some gluten free SOYJOY bars to fuel up with nutrients in seconds, SOYJOY bars. On those busy weeknights, add some Wildwood tofu to the standard stir-fry for more protein or this spinach fettuccini to your favorite pasta sauce, Wildwood Tofu.  Packing lunches with the same snacks can get a little boring, but honey roasted soy nuts are a sweet and crunchy snack packaged in individual sizes, perfect for the lunch box, Honey Roasted Soy Nuts.  Packed with protein and fiber, soyfoods are a great way to reduce calories, cholesterol and saturated fat. They also serve as a great source of iron, calcium, vitamin B-12, magnesium and zinc.  Including soyfoods into your diet is easy and convenient. See the recipes below: Soymilk adds a healthy twist to any smoothie and these scalloped potatoes: Soy Milk Scalloped Potatoes.  Edamame makes a great energy-boosting snack and puts in an interesting twist on this hummus: Edamame Hummus,  Easy recipes to get cooking with soy ingredients: Easy recipes to get cooking with soy

Follow the SoyFoods Association on Twitter at @SocialSANA

Follow SoyFoods Association on Facebook



* This sponsorship is brought to you by Soyfoods Association who we have partnered with for this promotion. I was provided with a box of products to sample.  This is a compensated post but all the views and opinions expressed are my own and based upon my experiences with Soyfoods Association products.

Friday, April 12, 2013

A-Maisie-ingly Wonderful Gluten, Egg & Dairy Free Bread

IMG_6938eMy A-Maisie-ing Maisie adores bread…well at least she used to until we found out that she’s allergic to wheat, egg & dairy and she had to give up her favorite, Nutella on bread…my poor girl!  I quickly found dark chocolate peanut butter which though not Nutella, was close enough to satisfy her.  In my attempt to give Maisie the bread she so dearly missed, we tried every.single.bread that I could find which was free of wheat, egg & dairy.  I swear though, there’s a racket going with gluten-free bread makers as each loaf seemed to run close to $10 and Maisie hated them all!  After spending a small fortune and having all my “bread” thrown in the rubbish bin we sort of gave up and Maisie resigned herself to not being able to eat bread and life went on.  But just recently I saw a recipe named Finally…Gluten Free Bread That Doesn’t Suck on One Good Thing by Jillie and honestly the name drew mw in and I just couldn’t pass it by without giving it a try.  After reading through the recipe I knew that I could adapt it for Maisie’s allergies as Jullie’s original recipe contained egg and milk powder.

 IMG_6942eMaisie’s excited, just waiting to bite into her bread.  Honestly in this picture she knows what she’s getting because I have made six loaves of this bread already because Maisie absolutely LOVES it!!  This bread is crazy delicious and though I’ve tweaked the recipe each time I’ve made it, from the first batch it was wonderful.  The first time I made it, I gave a slice to Eammon and he thought that I made a loaf of regular yeasty bread and wanted more, but this bread was for Maisie so Eammon was just out-of-luck. 

  IMG_6948eMaisie was so thrilled with the first two loaves that she finished them in three days!!  I swear, all she wanted to eat was bread with her Maisie “safe” butter.  It got to the point where I was using the bread as a treat, telling her that she could have some after she finished her meal and she opted for the bread in lieu of dessert!!  I’ve tried a taste of each of the three batches I’ve made and if I didn’t know, I wouldn’t know that this bread was gluten, egg and dairy free as it has that wonderful smell of yeast, the flour mixture doesn’t taste like you’re eating rice, the texture is tender and moist and there’s a nice chew to the bread.  I have to say, gluten-filled or gluten-free, this is some of the best sandwich bread I’ve ever eaten. 

IMG_6923eThe dough in the pans before it rises.  I honestly wasn’t too hopeful for a real bread the first time that I made this but now I know that from this step, it won’t be long before my home will smell of fresh baked bread and Maisie will be begging for a slice or two.

IMG_6931eIn the original recipe that Jillie posted, her bread rose about an inch above her pans but as I didn’t use eggs or milk, I found that a rise to just above the lip of the pan is about as far as I can take it before the dough will start to spill over the edge of the pan.  I keep a Silpat lined baking sheet on the rack below the bread pans so that if any dough does spill over, it doesn’t end up burning on the base of my oven.

IMG_6932eEven though my dough rose to just above the lip of the pan, once I started baking the bread I did have a little spill over.  I’m sure that if I had egg in the bread it would hold together a bit better, allowing for a higher rise.

IMG_6936A little spill over or not, each time that I’ve made this, I’ve ended up with two gorgeous and delicious loaves of bread. 

IMG_6939eLet the bread cool completely before slicing.  Look at the gorgeous texture and when I press in gently with my thumb, it springs right back up (see next picture) so no dry as the dessert or super dense bread like most of the ones Maisie ended up trashing.

IMG_6940eA-Maisie-ingly Wonderful Gluten, Egg & Dairy Free Bread (Adapted from here)       

Spray into two 8-inch bread pans with cooking spray and set aside.

Add the yeast and sugar to the 5 TBS. of warm water and stir until mixed. Set aside to activate while you mix the rest of the ingredients.

In a medium sized bowl mix together the brown rice flour, tapioca flour, cornstarch, potato flour, golden flax seed, xanthan gum, egg replacer and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the margarine, apple cider vinegar, honey and 1/2 cup of the warm water.  Mix together for about 30 seconds.  The butter will be chunky, that’s okay.

Add half the dry ingredients to the wet mixture in the mixer and mix just until blended.  Then add the remaining dry ingredients and mix for another 30 seconds, until blended.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the yeast mixture and the remaining 1 1/2 cups of warm water, then turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat for 4 minutes.  Half way through stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and make sure that nothing is stuck to the bowl. 

After 4 minutes the bread dough should resemble a thick cake batter.

Spoon the dough into the greased bread pans. If desired, dip your fingers in water and smooth the top of the dough. Set aside in a warm place to rise for approximately about 60 - 90 minutes.  (I found that 90 minutes in my 100F proofing oven worked perfectly)  While the dough rises, preheat oven to 375F.

When the dough has risen to just above the top of the pans, place the pans in your preheated oven on the middle rack and bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a skewer poked into the center of the bread comes out clean.  Remove the bread from the oven and let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Then remove the loaves from pans and place on a rack to cool.

After allowing the bread to cool COMPLETELY (this is important! Don’t rush it and cut into it while it’s still warm or you will flatten it.)  VERY carefully start cutting slices. Also very important, let your bread knife do the cutting for you! You provide the “sawing” action, but let the knife blade do the work. Don’t press down, just keep “sawing” across the top until you get all the way to the bottom of the loaf and hit the cutting board. The bread slices will keep their shape much better this way.  I have also found that slicing the bread top crust down makes for easier slicing.  Slice the entire loaf, put into a Ziploc bag and freeze.  When ready to serve, from frozen, toast or microwave the bread (40 seconds in my microwave) brings the bread back to that fresh baked texture. 



Sunday, April 7, 2013

Laura Goodenough’s Apple Coffeecake

IMG_6845eIt’s Secret Recipe Club time and this month I was assigned Stephanie’s blog, Sustainable Cooking for One.  Stephanie is a single gal who is pursuing a PhD in community nutrition and is passionate about eating local, gluten-free, low/no meat, in-season sustainable foods.  Also as the title of her blog suggests she focuses on cooking for one and even has a cookbook called One Bowl: Simple Healthy Recipes for One.

A number of Stephanie’s recipes appealed to me, her Red Lentil & Squash Soup as it’s been cold here, I had all the ingredients in my home and soup is always a wonderful meal, I thought that we’d all enjoy her Carrot Edamame Salad, and because I’ve been on a bit of a cauliflower kick lately, both her Creamy Cauliflower Carrot Custard and Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon & Mustard sounded like good options.  In the end though I decided that I wanted to make a cake for a friend and her family as her husband is going through chemotherapy and radiation and I thought that they would enjoy a sweet, homemade treat, so I chose Stephanie’s Laura Goodenough’s Apple Coffee Cake.  Really, just like Stephanie, what appealed to me first about the cake was the name but when I read the recipe and saw the large amount of fresh apples and the flavor profile, it sounded like a delicious and perfect cake for my friend.

IMG_6837eWhen Stephanie made her cake she adapted the recipe making it gluten-free but as my friends don’t have gluten issues, I made the cake with plain all-purpose flour.  Also, I didn’t have cider in my home but in my freezer I had frozen apple juice concentrate so I used that instead and because I felt that the concentrate was sweeter than the cider, I cut the sugar in the recipe a bit.  I also decided to add a little vanilla bean paste and salt to the batter just for some additional depth of flavor.  

Stephanie made two loaves from the recipe but I was really making this cake for my friend and trust me when I say, we don’t need lots of sweet treats in our home, but I did want to try the cake and of course get a picture, so I made one large loaf and a mini loaf for us to try and enjoy.  After eating our mini loaf I was sort of sad that I didn’t double the recipe as the cake was absolutely delicious and we would have loved more.  The strong cinnamon apple flavor and the slightly sweet cake with a nice crispy edge…well it was just perfect.  The cake was easy to make and we really loved it so I know that I’ll make it again and I know that my friend will love and appreciate the cake too.  Check out Stephanie’s blog for her gluten-free version.

IMG_6841e Laura Goodenough’s Apple Coffee Cake (adapted from here)

Heat the oven to 375 F. Grease a bundt pan or two loaf pans with cooking spray.

In a large bowl combine the apples with the cinnamon & 2 TBS. sugar and toss to coat, set aside. 

In a large bowl combine the vegetable oil, eggs, apple juice concentrate & vanilla.  Using a wooden spoon mix well.  Add the 1 1/2 cups of sugar, flour, baking powder & salt and combine well.  Spoon 1/3 of the batter into the bottom of the pan(s). Drain away any accumulated liquid from the apples and layer half the apples into the pan,  not allowing them to touch the sides. Spoon another 1/3 of the batter over the apples. Add the remaining apples, again not allowing them to touch the pan. Top with the remaining batter.

Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Cover with foil if the top begins to overbrown.

Cool to warm or room temperature before slicing.


My previous Secret Recipe Club Recipe Posts: 

Loaded Potato Soup
Lemon Almond Biscotti 
Creamy Mints 
Thai Peanut Noodles with Chicken 
Baked Buffalo Chicken Wings 
Fried Green Tomatoes 
Chicken Satay Noodle Salad 
Double Chocolate Mousse Cake 
Candied Popcorn
Fruit, Nut & Poppy Seed Chicken Salad 
Broiled Sushi 
Health(ier) Peanut Brittle 
Crunchy Fudgy Heart Bites 
Texas Chicken with Lime Butter 
Pork Belly Soup with Collard Greens 
Thin Mint Irish Coffee 
Levain Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies 
Welsh Cakes 
Nutella Crêpes 
Cilantro Lime Chicken 
Holy Guacamole 
Home Style Chicken Curry

Secret Recipe Club

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

IMG_6156eOne of Eammon’s favorite dishes is Chicken Tikka Masala so when I saw this slow cooker version at Julie’s Table for Two, I just had to give it a try.  The smell of it cooking all day drove us crazy as the aroma was gorgeous and when we tasted it, well pure perfection.  I actually got all the ingredients mixed together in the crock insert of my slow cooker the night before I planned to make it, left it in the fridge over night and in the morning, popped the ready-to-go crock in the crockpot, turned it on and a few hours later we were enjoying a delicious meal…and only the crock to clean up!  Make this dish, you won’t be disappointed.

IMG_6152eSlow Cooker Chicken Tiakka Masala  (slightly adapted from here)

Place everything up to and including the bay leaves into the removable crock of a slow cooker.  With a spatula, stir to combine everything and make sure the chicken is coated well.  Refrigerate overnight or use immediately.  When ready to cook, place the crock into the slow cooker, cover and cook for 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.

When done, in a medium bowl, whisk together the heavy cream and corn starch, then pour the mixture into the crockpot and gently stir. Let cook an additional 20 minutes to thicken up.

Serve hot over a bed of rice and garnish with cilantro.

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, this recipe also freezes and reheats beautifully.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Dan Dan Noodles ~ healthier~ low carbs but with Full Flavor!

IMG_6741e I am not a huge pasta lover but I absolutely adore really spicy Dan Dan Noodles.  Recently I had a craving for them and instead of running out to my favorite Szechuan restaurant I decided to make them at home and to try and do a healthier version.  My concession to making them healthier was to replace the Chinese egg noodles with some no calorie/no carb Shirataki noodles and instead of pork (which I generally order) I decided to use some ground turkey breast. 

Holy cow this recipe rocked and had all the wonderful flavors found in the restaurant version and even better, I didn’t feel all full and bloated after eating it.  I just found a new winner with this recipe and I’ll be making it time and time again.  Oh and when Eammon tried it, he thought that I had brought in take-out ;-) 

IMG_6743eDan Dan Noodles 

If using the Shirataki noodles, drain and rinse very well.  If using the Chinese egg noodles, bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the noodles according to package instructions. Drain the noodles, rinse under cold water, and drain again. Transfer the noodles to a serving dish.

Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the base and sides of the wok. Add the garlic, ginger and red chili peppers. Stir fry until lightly brown and fragrant.  Add in the meat, breaking it apart with a spatula. Stir-fry until the meat no longer pink and slightly browned. Add in the Chinese wine, black vinegar and Szechuan preserved vegetable and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add in the green onions, soy sauce, sesame paste, Szechuan peppercorns, chili oil, ground peanuts, chicken stock, sesame oil and sugar.

Stir well and bring to a boil. Cook until the sauce thickens. Check the seasonings and add salt if needed.  Spoon the cooked meat mixture over the noodles. Sprinkle the chopped green onions on top before serving.  


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