Asparagus and Gruyere Tart


I've had this recipe saved to make for I don't even know how long. Tom is not a big fan of asparagus so I rarely get to try out new recipes with asparagus as the star unless it's a holiday, we're having people over, or something I can make for lunches.

He really surprised me with this recipe. I didn't think he would even try it, but he did and said that he really liked it. I think that's because of the gruyere cheese. It pairs so nicely with the asparagus and flakiness of the puff pastry that you really can't eat just one serving of this appetizer.

Asparagus and Gruyere Tart
Source: Closet Cooking
Servings: 6-8
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    • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
    • 2 tbsp. dijon mustard
    • 2 cups shredded gruyere cheese
    • 1/2 lb. asparagus
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • olive oil 
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Roll out the puff pastry to a 16x10 rectangle.
3. Use a sharp knife to score a line 1-inch from the edge of the pastry. This will create a raised edge of puff pastry when it cooks. Use a fork to prick the center of the pastry. This will stop it from rising too much in the oven.
4. Spread the dijon mustard on the inside of the cut, then sprinkle with the Gruyere cheese.
5. Rinse the asparagus and remove the woody ends. Pat dry, then arrange in an even layer down the length of the pastry.
6. Season with salt and pepper. Use the oil to brush around the outside edge of the pastry.
7. Bake for 15-25 minutes or until the asparagus is roasted and the puff pastry is golden brown.
8. Let rest for a few minutes before slicing into squares and serving.

I'm kind of sad that I only managed to get one piece of this. It was a delicious piece but I really would have loved to had another. I love this kind of recipe because it looks fancy and like you took a lot of time preparing it, but that's not true at all. Aside from the baking, the longest part about this recipe is waiting for the puff pastry to thaw!

Improv Challenge: Ham and Cheese Wafflewiches


Despite my best intentions, I do not have a good track record of participating in Improv Challenges this year. I actually made recipes for the January and February ingredients but just could not manage to get them posted in time to share for the challenge.

I actually scheduled this post back in January and the title was "April Improv Challenge: Ham and Cheese MUST PARTICIPATE!!" Why the excess punctuation and capitalization? Well, because last year we were asked to think up some ingredient combinations and submit them for this year. 

I submitted ham and cheese so naturally, it would just be wrong not to participate in a challenge of the ingredients I picked, right? That still didn't make picking a recipe easy. Ham and cheese is such a classic combination that trying to find a recipe that wasn't obvious was harder than I thought. 

I eventually decided on this waffle version because I like to occasionally serve breakfast for dinner and this fit the bill. Well, for Tom it did. I added scrambled eggs into his waffle sandwich but not my own. (I can't stand scrambled eggs)

Ham and Cheese Wafflewich
Source: Southern Bite
Servings: 4

    • 1 can refrigerated biscuits
    • 8 slices deli ham
    • 8 slices cheddar cheese
    • 1 cup scrambled eggs (optional)

1. Heat up your waffle iron and spray with non-stick cooking spray. 
2. Remove the biscuits from the can and separate each biscuit into 2 pieces. Use your fingers and press down on the dough, rotating in a circle until the biscuit is even and flattened. Repeat with all biscuits. 
3. Place a slice of ham and a slice of cheese on one side of the biscuit. Add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of scrambled egg on top if using. Place the other half of the biscuit on top and press to seal the edges, folding them under or crimping them. 
4. Repeat with remaining biscuits, then place your biscuit sandwich on the waffle iron and cook until golden brown. (About 3 minutes using a Cuisnart Griddler with waffle plates)

I put the scrambled egg in Tom's wafflewiches and left mine just ham and cheese. I think I could have spiced mine up a bit by adding a dollop of grainy or brown mustard, but they were still delicious as is. Tom said he really liked adding syrup to his, but that's a combination my brain can't get around. 

What's Baking: Crustless Caprese Quiche


Quiche is a very hit or miss recipe for me. Either I like it and I want to devour the entire plate of it, or I don't like it at all. I blame this entirely on the eggs, which is unfortunately a necessary ingredient in making quiche.

I don't like scrambled eggs at all and quiche reminds me of them, even when they are full of other ingredients. However, I keep trying out new quiche recipes because there are a few that I've had and really liked.

And it just so happens that the theme for What's Baking this month is quiche. The hostess of What's Baking for April is Liz, over at Books and Cooks. There will be a round up towards the end of the month with all of the quiche recipes we've created, but don't wait that long, go check out her blog now!

I love caprese. You can never go wrong with the classic combination of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil. I love these three flavors so much I couldn't wait to put them together in a quiche.

Crustless Caprese Quiche
Source: Food Network
Servings: 8
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    • 1/3 cup + 2 tbsp. breadcrumbs
    • 2 tsp. olive oil
    • 1 medium sweet onion, finely diced
    • 4 plum/Roma tomatoes, divided
    • 2 eggs + 2 egg whites
    • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced + 1 sprig for garnish
    • 4 oz. shredded mozzarella 
    • salt and pepper 
1. Preheat the oven to 350 and spray a deep 9-inch pie plate with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Chop 2 of the plum/Roma tomatoes and set aside. Thinly slice the other 2 tomatoes and pat dry with a paper towel or dish towel to remove excess liquid. Set aside.
3. Evenly sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs all over the plate.
4. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet and cook the onion over medium heat until softened and translucent, about 15 minutes. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, season to taste with salt and pepper and cook for 1 minute more. Remove from the heat.
5. Add the 1/3 cup breadcrumbs, eggs, egg whites, ricotta cheese, milk and 1/4 cup basil to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Stir in the onion and tomato mixture.
6. Pour the mixture from the blender into the prepared pie plate. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella on top, then arrange the tomato slices in overlapping layers.
7. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the center is set (no longer jiggles when you move the pie plate) and the cheese has lightly browned.
8. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing into 8 wedges. Garnish with additional basil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

I thought this quiche was pretty good. I think a drained, diced (canned) tomato mixed into the blender mixture would probably work better than using fresh tomatoes because of their high water content. I would add a bit more mozzarella cheese to this, but overall the flavors were delicious and I ate a whole slice!

Broccoli Bacon Salad


I've always loved salad. Even as a kid, I was thrilled to have a big old pile of lettuce with carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers and ranch dressing. As I got older, I began to branch out and add additional things to my salad and change up the type of dressing I used.

Broccoli was never a big part of salad for me. As a vegetable, it's just okay. I don't really like or dislike broccoli. But then there was this salad that changed everything.

Seriously, I'm not joking. I made this salad on Easter because I wanted a lighter dish to go along with the ham and potatoes au gratin. I think I've mentioned before that when I host holidays and serve some type of green salad for dinner, my family tends to pass it up. Guess what?! They ate this!

I'm now convinced this broccoli and bacon salad contains some sort of magical properties, because not only did I eat it on Easter, I finished off the leftovers throughout the week.

Broccoli Bacon Salad
Source: Recipes for Our Daily Bread
Servings: 8
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    • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
    • 2 1/2 tbsp. honey
    • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice 
    • 1 tsp. pepper
    • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt 
    • 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
    • 2 large bunches broccoli, florets chopped
    • 1/2 cup matchstick carrots
    • 1/2 cup Craisins
    • 1/3 cup red onion, finely diced
1. Add the mayonnaise, honey, lemon juice, pepper and salt to a bowl. Stir together until fully combined. (I made this in advance and transferred to a mason jar to keep in the fridge.)
2. In a large bowl, toss together the broccoli, carrots and red onion. Stir in the chopped bacon and Craisins.
3. Pour half of the dressing over the mixture and stir to fully coat everything. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with remaining dressing on the side.

I put all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl the day before and refrigerated it. I wanted to dressing to soak into the broccoli without it getting mushy so I poured it over the salad 2 hours before serving.

I plan on making this again soon to take for lunch! 

SRC: Bourbon BBQ Chicken and Pineapple Fried Rice


Usually when a Secret Recipe Club reveal falls around my birthday (yesterday, if you're curious) I tend to make a dessert recipe and enjoy it as part of my birthday celebrations. But some crazy combination of planets and stars aligned and...get this...I didn't want dessert.

Yeah, I know. I should probably see my doctor about this. Who doesn't want dessert on their birthday?

I was assigned to 2 Cookin' Mamas for April's reveal and I simply could not choose one recipe. I pinned a good ten of them, something I usually hesitate to do as to not out myself. But we had both recently participated in SixteenCheesecakes which I thought could explain my pinning spree.

2 Cookin' Mamas is written by mom and daughter duo Linda and Christina. There are so many good recipes! I couldn't choose between an appetizer recipe and a side dish recipe so after hemming and hawing for a minute or two, the idea to just combine them into a main dish finally came to me.

It's not a classic pairing, but I promise you can never go wrong with Bourbon BBQ Chicken and Pineapple Fried Rice. In the original recipe the Bourbon BBQ Chicken is grilled, but third floor apartment life doesn't exactly allow for that to be an easy task. And this is an actual bourbon and barbecue marinated chicken, not like bourbon chicken stuff you'll get at the mall.  Instead I cooked mine on my Cuisinart Griddler. If grilling, you'll want to cut the chicken into strips and slide onto wooden skewers.

Bourbon BBQ Chicken and Pineapple Fried Rice
Source: 2 Cooking Mamas
Servings: 4
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for the bourbon bbq chicken:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
8 oz. BBQ sauce
1/8 cup bourbon
4 slices bacon, diced
1 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
for the pineapple fried rice:
3 tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
1 red pepper, diced
1/3 cup sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 large eggs
1/2 cup carrot, shredded or matchstick
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup pineapple chunks, chopped
1/2 cup roasted cashews, chopped
3 cups day-old cooked rice (jasmine, brown rice, etc.)
3 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. Thai red curry paste
2 green onions, thinly sliced
fresh cilantro, chopped for garnish

for the chicken:
1. Combine the bacon, brown sugar, paprika, salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder together in a blender or food processor and pulse until a paste is formed.
2. Smooth the paste over the chicken pieces (or strips) and place on a hot grill or grill plate. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until cooked through.
3. Meanwhile, stir together the BBQ sauce and bourbon. After chicken has finished cooking, brush onto both sides of the chicken and grill for 1 minute more. Serve remaining sauce on the side.
for the fried rice:
1. Prepare the dish by combining ingredients together in bowls. In the first small bowl, add red pepper and onion. In the second, garlic and crushed red pepper. In the third, the carrots and peas. In the fourth, combine 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil with the rice, pineapple and cashews. In the final bowl, stir together the soy sauce and curry paste.
2. Heat a large skillet or wok over medium high heat with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add in the red pepper and onions first, cooking for 2-3 minutes, then stir in the garlic and crushed red pepper, cooking for 1 minute more.
3. Crack the eggs into the pan and scramble until no longer wet, then stir in the carrots and peas, cooking for 2-3 minutes.
4. Stir in the rice/pineapple/cashew mixture along with the soy/curry mixture and cook for 5-8 minutes, until all vegetables are cooked/warmed through.
5. Divide fried rice among plate and top with green onions and cilantro. Serve along with the Bourbon BBQ chicken.

I haven't had good fried rice in a really long time and this totally hit the spot. I had the leftovers for lunch the next couple of days. The pineapple adds just a hint of sweetness to the dish and goes really well with the chicken.  

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