Tomato Herb Frittata Bites

Tomato Herb Frittata Bites

 

Last year at this time I was mired in the first trimester of my pregnancy with #2.

With #1, I spent the first three months dizzy, nauseated and unable to eat anything more than toast or the blandest cold cereals. With #2, I thankfully didn’t suffer the same gastrointestinal distresses. But I was exhausted. All. The. Time. Getting dressed to teach my classes was enough to send me back to bed. Bathing #1 made me long for my own hot bath. And working on my dissertation (which I was frantically trying to finish before #2’s appearance)? Without fortifying myself with a hearty dose of caffeine, I couldn’t write a paragraph.

Needless to say, I wasn’t really in the holiday spirit last Christmas. So when my mother asked me what we should do for Christmas dinner, I responded with, “Something easy. Maybe tacos. Or take-out. Someplace has to be open on Christmas.”

Our actual solution was festive, delicious, and less stressful than making a full dinner: Christmas brunch. We had scrambled eggs, orange juice, veggie sausage, and Dad’s Famous Peanut Butter Toast (which is a Major Thing, Worthy of Capitalization in our family). No part of the meal took more than ten minutes to prepare. No one stressed through the Christmas morning rituals because there was still stuffing to assemble or pie to bake.

So this year, even though I’m not miserably pregnant, we decided to keep the Christmas brunch tradition going. We still had veggie sausage and Dad’s Famous Peanut Butter Toast, but this time Mom went out on a limb and made Emeril’s breakfast potato hash, while I decided to make some mini frittatas I’d seen a friend post on Facebook.

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Tomato Herb Frittata Bite at Christmas brunch

Recipe Details

(Source: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/tomato-herb-mini-frittatas)

Time Commitment: This will take you no longer than 45 minutes, and perhaps as few as 30 if you can wash and chop herbs faster than I can. This is the benefit of mini frittatas rather than one big frittata.

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Mess: The worst part is cleaning out the muffin tins. (Am I the only one who finds that process so annoying?) I recommend placing a baking sheet under the frittatas as they bake to catch any potential overflow.

Mom Fails: I do it every time I bake with muffin tins–grease more tins than I have ingredients to fill. Today was no exception. Rather than just clean out the PAM, I just made a couple of very skinny frittatas to fill all the cups.

IMG_5003Modifications: 

I made the following modifications from the original recipe. The recipe below reflects these modifications.

  • Muffin tin: The original recipe instructs you to bake each frittata in its own little ramekin. But I’m sorry; I’m a real human being with limited cabinet space, not a Southern Living bot in a brick home with columns and a chef’s kitchen. So I used muffin tins. Slightly less elegant, but no less delicious.
  • Basil: The original recipe called for fresh parsley. But I know a recipe that just screams for fresh basil when I see it–namely, any recipe with tomatoes and cheese. I’m sure parsley in this dish would be just fine, but basil is a better call.

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Garlic Roasted Broccoli

Rating: 5/5 stars. This is the one broccoli recipe to rule them all.

It’s impossible to meet someone less enthusiastic about the “paleo diet” than I am. I say that with very little exaggeration. You can ask my husband: I rant about the paleo diet on a regular basis. I find the premise silly and the environmental ramifications unsettling. I refuse to believe that my enjoyment of a morning bowl of oatmeal makes me less healthy than some five foot tall guy in skins with a life expectancy of 35.

On the other hand, a “paleo” person (by which I do not mean a person who lived in the Paleolithic era—who frankly would be thrilled at the idea of bottomless pasta bowls, movie theater popcorn, and cookie cakes—but rather a twenty-first century person who ascribes to the paleo diet) would have plenty of criticisms of my own eating habits. I’m a vegetarian, for crying out loud. I speak chocolate chip cookie as my second language.

Despite all this, the paleo diet and I have recently come to a fragile truce.

A few weeks ago, our family arrived for lunch at my parents’ to find the house engulfed in fragrant garlic. Rob and I exchanged our patented “garlic bread—hell yes” glances. (Those come in handy more often than you might think in our marriage.)

I had a moment of disappointment when I realized that glorious odor was actually coming from a pan of roasted broccoli. But the disappointment didn’t last. While the broccoli wasn’t exactly C&O Trattoria garlic knots, it was still the best broccoli I’ve ever eaten.

My mother, who’s diabetic, is always on the hunt for good recipes that won’t turn her body against her. She found this one on a paleo diet website. Despite its dubious (to me) origins, I can’t help but shout its praises from the rooftops. This recipe is delicious and shockingly easy—a pairing made in busy-mama heaven!

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Time Commitment: 25-30 minutes. You can whip together the broccoli mix in ten minutes; then it takes 15 minutes to roast.

Mess: Minimal, especially if you line your baking pan with foil.

Mom Fails: When food comes out of the oven, I’m ready to get it on my plate and in my belly, ASAP. I tend to forget any last steps that are supposed to happen after food comes out of the oven. This recipe was no exception. In my hurry to become at one with the garlic I’d been smelling for the last fifteen minutes, I totally forgot that I was supposed to drizzle the finished product with lemon juice. This didn’t seem to make any noticeable difference in terms of the final product.

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Heavenly Garlic Roasted Broccoli

(Source: http://paleogrubs.com/roasted-broccoli-recipe)

Makes Broccoli for 4–or for 2, if you really love broccoli (like Rob and me)

I made the following modifications from the original recipe. The recipe below reflects these modifications.

  • Lemon Juice:As I mentioned, I forgot to drizzle lemon juice after taking the pan out of the oven. This by no means ruined the recipe, so I marked that particular step as optional. Do it if you remember, because I’m sure it adds some pleasant brightness. But if you forget, don’t worry about it. You have enough stressors in your life. Broccoli shouldn’t be one of them.
  • Garlic press: I know garlic presses get a bad rap. Yeah, they take up precious kitchen space and only do one job. But what if you want your garlic minced very fine—basically pulverized? I could sit there with my chef’s knife hacking away for fifteen minutes, or I could whip out the garlic press and be done instantly. I’ll let you guess which option I choose.
  • Salt and pepper: I used slightly less salt and pepper than the original recipe calls for. Unless your two heads of broccoli are truly enormous, you really don’t need a full teaspoon of salt or ½ teaspoon of pepper.

Recipe

  • 2 medium-sized broccoli crowns, washed and cut into florets
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • heaping ¼ tsp black pepper
  • sprinkle of red pepper flakes (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a small prep bowl, mix together your salt, black pepper, and garlic.
  3. Toss together broccoli and olive oil in a large bowl.
  4. Sprinkle broccoli with spice mixture. Stir gently as you sprinkle. Be sure to spread the spices evenly so you don’t get any overly salty bites.
  5. Spread broccoli in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake for fifteen minutes, stirring once half-way through. (Add the red pepper flakes, if desired, at the half-way point.) The broccoli is finished when the edges are beginning to blacken.
  7. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the broccoli, and serve.

 

 

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

 

Rating: 4/5 stars. This recipe is quick and chocolatey–a pleasure for all the senses.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

I don’t mean the holidays. I mean… semester grades at a certain high-dollar Southern boarding school have now officially been submitted. If you’ve ever wondered why teachers have a tendency to be a bit grinch-y around the holidays, well, I just want you to imagine that instead of hanging shiny globes on the Christmas tree or buying cute toys (educational of course) for your little ones, you instead spend your waking hours mired in a swamp of bad student writing, irritating grade software, and uncomfortable work pants. It doesn’t exactly make one a paragon of festivity.

But as of Tuesday morning, grades are done! I am now free to spend some time indulging in the Christmas spirit. Well, at least I’m free to do that after 3pm, because said Southern boarding school also has a crazy schedule, and we still have class for four days after semester grades are submitted.

So what’s a teacher to do? Make cookies, of course! I’m giving them to my students to bribe them into continuing to do schoolwork through the end of the week, and to the colleagues in classrooms around me for being a fantastic bunch of folks to find myself in the trenches with every day.

As per usual, I spent a significant amount of time in the Valley of Cookie Indecision this year. Chocolate or fruit? To roll or to drop? Should I break out Grandma’s cookie press? Nuts? Sprinkles? Icing?

In the end, I went with a new-to-me but classically Christmas recipe: chocolate crinkle cookies. And I’m so glad I did. These are the anti-sugar cookies. Cakey and bittersweet, they let the chocolate take center stage.

Next year at this time, you’ll probably find me, yet again, wallowing in the Valley of Cookie Indecision. But for now? I’m definitely planning to make these again.

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Time Commitment: Ok, don’t judge me here. We had just come back from a walk, because we’re the midst of a crazy December warm spell. On said walk, #2 fell asleep in his stroller. I suppose I could have woken him up, but what sort of mom do you think I am, exactly? Am I a glutton for punishment? So I came up with a solution that was a win for everybody: I pulled the stroller up to the door from the garage so I could both see and hear when #2 woke up, put on some Sesame Street for #1 (we’re not judging right now, remember?), and desperately whipped together this cookie dough. It took 20 minutes. And in case you were wondering, I almost finished before the baby woke up. The dough really does need to chill for a couple of hours, too—which was perfect for me, since it gave me just enough time for me to feed the kiddos and put them to bed. In a nutshell, I started this project at 6 and finished at 10, but most of that time was just waiting for the dough to chill.

Mess: This recipe takes two bowls, plus a cutting board if you want to chop chocolate bars rather than use chips. But it’s otherwise just a typical cookie recipe, mess-wise.

Mom Fails: I didn’t use quite enough powdered sugar on the first pan of these that I baked. In order to get the perfect crinkly exterior, you need to really coat them in the stuff.

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Chocolate Crinkle Cookies 

(Source: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/chocolate-crinkles-recipe)

Makes 3 dozen cookies

I made the following modifications from the original recipe. The recipe below reflects these modifications.

  • Espresso Powder: I substituted two teaspoons of instant coffee for the espresso powder in the original recipe. I worried because I could taste the coffee flavor in the dough, but the finished cookies just taste like deep, dark chocolate.
  • Chill time: The recipe mentions that the dough will firm up quite a bit in the fridge. Yes, it will. Don’t skip this step! Immediately after making this, the dough looks basically like cake batter, but it became reasonably firm after chilling for a couple of hours.
  • Chocolate: I suppose you could make this recipe with chocolate chips, but the better the chocolate, the better the outcome. I used a bittersweet Scharffen Berger bar. Wow! The cookies are intensely chocolate-y and only barely sweet.
  • Salt: I tend to use a bit of extra salt in sweet recipes that only call for a small amount, like this one. A heaping ¼ teaspoon was just enough to intensify the flavor without standing out from the other ingredients.

RecipePhoto Jan 03, 7 51 40 PM

  • 1 1/3 cups bittersweet chocolate, chopped fairly small (or chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder (optional, but recommended)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (the recipe recommends King Arthur, for obvious reasons, and I fully endorse this recommendation!)
  • 1 c confectioners’ sugar, for coating
  1. Microwave chopped chocolate and butter until butter melts. I used 70% power and took about 2 minutes. Stir until chocolate fully melts.
  2. Cream together butter, eggs, vanilla, and coffee/espresso. Stir in chocolate/butter mixture. (It’s ok if it’s still warm.) Add baking powder and salt, then, slowly, the flour.
  3. Chill dough at least 2 hours (what I did), or overnight. This is vital to help the dough firm up enough to shape!
  4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees; grease a cookie sheet (or line it with parchment paper).
  5. Roll balls of dough approximately one inch in diameter. Coat thoroughly with powdered sugar. (I put some sugar in a shallow bowl and rolled the dough balls around in it.)
  6. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes. Let stand on the cookie sheet for about five minutes; then finish cooling on a wire rack.