Artichoke and Cheese Quiche

Quiche! For dinner? Yes! I don’t know if that actually is kosher, but I love eggs, cheese, and artichokes… and I figured this would be a yummy quick meal. This turned out SO well, and was a delicious left-over as well. It came from a recipe on Health.com. The recipe originally called for egg substitute but instead I did a combination of eggs and egg whites until I had 1 cup of beaten eggs. Depending on the size of the eggs you use – you might want to adjust accordingly.

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Artichoke Quiche

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked long-grain rice
  • 3/4 cup (3 oz) shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 4 eggs and 3 egg whites mixed (1 cup of eggs)
  • 1 tsp dried dillweed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • cooking spray
  • 1 (15-oz) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • 3/4 cup almond milk (you can use fat-free milk)
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 T dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine rice, 1/4 cup cheese, 1/4 cup eggs, dillweed, salt, and garlic; press into a 9-inch pieplate coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 7 minutes.
  3. Arrange artichoke quarters on bottom of rice crust; sprinkle remaining cheese. Combine eggs, milk, green onions, mustard and pepper. Pour egg mixture over rice and artichokes.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until eggs have set.
  5. Let stand 5 minutes; cut into wedges!

Italian Fries

I really love potatoes. Any kind of potatoes. Someone told me that potatoes were good for weight loss. But I am not sure if these potatoes count considering that you add a whole lot of butter, evoo, and cheese!

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I made these with Jessi in Chicago, and a few times here as well. The trick is to make sure all of the potatoes are cut evenly, otherwise they cook at different speeds and you end up with a few cheesy mashed potatoes and a few burnt shoestring fries. Once you get the balance though… they are MAGICAL. Super cheesy, delicious, and amazing.

Italian Fries (from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium/large russet potatoes sliced into 1/3 inch fry-strips soaked in cold water for at least 45 minutes (I use less potatoes than Martha – higher cheese ratio!)
  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T dried italian herbs
  • 2 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan or romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves, freshly chopped
  • 4 T salted butter cut into cubes
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Drain potatoes and pat dry with paper towel. Spread 1 T of olive oil on each of 2 rimmed greased baking sheets (I use Crisco spray) and spread out potatoes. Martha says to overlapping is okay – but I like to lay them out flat.
  3. Sprinkle herbs evenly over potatoes. Spread LOTS of cheese and parsley all over the top. If it looks like you need some more cheese – add it. You cannot have too much cheese – ever.
  4. Drizzle remaining 2 T of olive oil over cheese. Scatter the cubed butter around the pans evenly.
  5. Bake until potatoes are golden brown. (45-50 minutes) Rotate pans every fifteen minutes to ensure even cooking.
  6. Use a spatula to lift off the potatoes with all of the delicious cheese crisped on top!
  7. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

These can be reheated in the oven the next day and are JUST as good. Just make sure to remember to re-spray the aluminum foil with some cooking spray – otherwise the cheese gets stuck to the pan. Enjoy these – they are DELICIOUS!

San Diego!

After a month of living the vacation-life in sunny San Diego, I figured it was only fair to reflect on our journey out here and all of the things I love about my new So-Cal existence.

We left Chicago on a VERY cold and slightly snowy December morning. (After of course hitting up Ann Sathers for the last resident brunch).

Our first stop was in St. Louis (5 hrs) where we got to catch up with some of Charlie’s college friends. The car was LOADED with stuff, so we were a little nervous about street parking, but we got a spot right in front of the apartment. The next morning we headed to Oklahoma City! (7 hrs) Walter started getting the hang of travel…

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However, he did NOT like getting left in the car during our lunch stops…

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But he really liked hotel wall mirrors…

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After OKC we headed to Albuquerque (8 hrs). I had fond memories of Albuquerque from a conference my Dad went to when we were little chillins’. Mostly the Ihop. But Charlie wasn’t as excited about a Chocolate Chip Pancake platter, so we found breakfast elsewhere. We did however stumble upon a Prix Fixe winery for New Years Eve! We thought we were going to end up in some sort of Applebees of sorts. But the meal ended up being really nice. (And Walter slept some more).

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After Albuquerque we headed to Tucson (6.5 hrs) where we stayed with Charlie’s wonderful cousins. We were definitely getting a little restless – and even more excited to get into our apartment and sleep in the same bed for more than one night! Charlie was the man and drove the ENTIRE time. I’ve been cursed with the Johnson-woman-snooze, which means if a motor is on… I get sleepy. After Tucson we began our final descent into San Diego (6 hrs). Charlie insisted that we doing something So-Cal, so we had In & Out for lunch!

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Yeah, it’s worth the hype. Also, there is a secret menu!! You can also ask for your fries extra crispy, which I haven’t tried yet – but I’m looking for any excuse to visit again.

After our delicious lunch we drove a couple more hours and arrived in San Diego!! We met with our apartment manager (we did the entire rental online!!) and saw our apartment for the first time. We were so relieved to see that 1) it was a real apartment and 2) it was really nice! It’s about a third the size of our Chicago apartment, but luckily we like each other a lot.

Charlie and I then set out to Ikea to furnish our apartment. We sold almost all of our furniture in Chicago, so we had some cash to spend at Ikea. We had visited Ikea in Chicago to plan out what we wanted, and I had used this nifty floor plan tool on Pottery Barn’s website to plan it.

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The only trick was that our apartment was the opposite way. But we managed and besides feeling like everything was backwards at first, it turned out perfectly. (More pictures to come once I finally find the right pillows and buy shams.)

We were at Ikea for a fantastic three hours, and loaded everything up to be delivered! They didn’t have our couch in stock so we had to go back a few days later to re-order it. Here is how happy Charlie was to be at Ikea at 9 pm after driving almost six hours…

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We then got home and collapsed onto our oh-so-comfy floor, and slept.

The trip to San Diego was absolutely amazing, I am so happy that Charlie drove most of the time (okay the whole time). It was really fun to see the scenery, especially between Tucson and San Diego. The only thing I didn’t expect was that it was so cold down south!! I packed for San Diego weather, but it was snowing and cold the whole time. Luckily, Charlie plans better than I do – so I got dibs on his winter jacket.

Things I love about San Diego!!

  1. The weather is amazing. Like so amazing. People apologize when its colder than 67 degrees.
  2. Our apartment is really nice, and is in an amazing location. We have three grocery stores and running trails all within a mile.
  3. There is always something to do! In Chicago there was always something to do as well, but it was cold 70% of the time. Here, even when it’s “cold” it is still a perfect day for the zoo, the park, or the USS Midway museum.
  4. Everyone has dogs. And I want to play with all of them. A puppy is definitely on my summer wish list.
  5. The farmer’s market downtown. And it is year round (see #1).
  6. My sweet high school friend Whitney is also a recent transplant, so we’ve been navigating the San Diego neighborhoods together!
  7. My parents were kind enough to help out and buy my Aunt’s amazing car. (It’s a ’95 Audi convertible, and I feel like Barbie’s best friend Skipper). It has been a blast to enjoy #1 with the top down!

Things I could live without…

  1. The gas is over $4.00… and that’s the cheapest gas in a ten mile radius.
  2. It is far from my Mommy and Daddy, and I miss them. (Though my mom came and visited for a week at the end of January!)
  3. I miss my friends! I’ve made some friends here, and I know that when I start work I will meet even more people… but I miss being able to call up my girlfriends for a quick drink or coffee. Luckily we have gchat and FaceTime.

More posts on beautiful San Diego to come!

Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

We had been waiting and waiting for our “kitchen appliances” box to arrive in San Diego (as well as my car… cookbooks… cookie trays… mixing bowls… oh and clothing) when it arrived!!! In this box was what Charlie refers to as “The Game Changer” – my 30-year-old Cuisinart mixer. “But Amanda!” you say, “How is that possible, when you are just a spritely 25-years-old?” It was a wedding gift to my parents, and just like their marriage, it is still magical and extremely productive.

I had never made soup before, so I wanted to make something easier for my intro lesson. I have always loved Trader Joe’s Butternut Squash Soup, so when I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it!

When I went to the grocer I found two butternut squash options – a $1.69 full butternut squash or a $2.99/bag of pre-cut butternut squash. Well, I would have needed to buy three pre-cut bags, and the guy at Trader Joe’s told me that cutting butternut squash was impossible… so naturally I bought the full butternut squash. I love a challenge. Well, he was right… it was awful. But I’m glad I did it because; 1) I proved him wrong and 2) I saved five dollars!

Butternut-Pear Soup and Grilled Cheese

Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion – diced
  • 1 small butternut squash (2 pounds) – peeled seeded and diced large
  • 2 pears – peeled and diced large
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup low fat plain greek yogurt
  • chopped fresh chives (if you want – for serving)

Instructions:

  1. In a medium pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, cook until translucent (I really don’t know what that means – I cooked it for eight minutes).
  2. Add squash, pears, and 4 cups of water. (Note on this: I didn’t think 4 cups seemed like enough but Charlie told me to follow the recipe and it would be fine – he was right! No need to add more water).
  3. Season roast with salt and pepper.
  4. Bring to a boil; reduce to a rapid simmer and cook until squash is soft – 20 to 25 minutes.
  5. In batches, fill a blender half way (don’t get too enthusiastic and fill it more) with soup and puree with yogurt until smooth.
  6. Transfer to a clean pot as you work.
  7. Season with salt and pepper and serve with chives if desired.

Things I will try next time!

  • Nothing different! I loved the texture and the balance of butternut squash and pear. It is definitely delicious with a grilled cheese!

 

Spinach and Artichoke Pizza

In Chicago there was this magical place called Homemade Pizza. You could get all sorts of fun and delicious toppings on a yummy thin crust – and then bake it at home! My favorite was the Georgia, Charlie’s was the Buffalo Chicken (gross). Anyway, since relocating to sunny California, I have been craving Homemade Pizza like crazy! I had never made a real home-made pizza before so I was kind of apprehensive about the dough/baking instrument/ingredients/toppings… everything. After all thirteen of our boxes showed up… (Yes – we packed our entire life into two cars and thirteen boxes) I found Charlie’s old pizza baking tray and felt inspired! I searched for pizza recipes and found this one on Real Simple. I changed some of the ingredients/steps… but it turned out AMAZING! Like Meryl Streep Amazing.

Enjoy! :-)

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Spinach and Artichoke Pizza

  • 1 lb pizza dough at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups quattro formaggio (mixture of yummy cheeses of your choice!)
  • 4 oz light cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 T olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups marinated artichoke hearts
  • 2 cups spinach
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

  1. Form pizza dough into a 12-inch circle on a floured surface. (Note: This is a pain in the biz-utt, make sure the dough is at room temperature – I had to use a rolling pin and a whole lot of perseverance).
  2. Place pizza form onto a baking sheet (with corn meal on the bottom) or pizza pan.
  3. Spread olive oil over crust – sprinkle salt and pepper.
  4. Break cream cheese into small pieces and place on oiled crust.
  5. Sprinkle 3/4 cup cheese over cream cheese and oil.
  6. Quarter artichoke hearts and spread over pizza.
  7. Cover pizza with spinach.
  8. Sprinkle remaining cheese over pizza. (Feel free to add more cheese – you can never have enough!) :-)
  9. Bake at 450 degrees for 25 minutes.

Things I will try next time!

  • Cooking the crust for a little bit prior to dressing it up. (Charlie says this will make it crispier!)
  • Moooore artichokes. Yummy!!
  • Spreading the cream cheese over the pizza dough evenly before adding olive oil and other toppings!

Office Style

Okay, before I start this – I have a huge confession. We don’t have cable (we’re poor), so we have to rely on Netflix and my big monthly splurge – Hulu Plus. Anyway, ever since I passed the Bar (yay!) and started my part-time job I have not had anything to do when I get home! I went right from College to Law School – so I have had homework basically for the past 24 years. It has been a bit of an adjustment. But there has been a lot of baking, a lot of cleaning – and here is where my confession comes – a whole lot of Whitney Port. Seriously, why did they ever cancel The City? So much dramz. I love it. But really – I don’t get the Jay thing – Gretchen Weiner said it right “That’s why her hair so big… It’s full of secrets.”

At work I share an office with three other wonderful ladies, but our desks themselves are very drab. And they needed some funky additions. I was on C. Wonder looking for a gift for Natalie and I found this…

I don’t actually like orange very much. But for some reason I think this looks really sophisticated. I think it might be intended to be a drink tray or food tray. But I’m practical, therefore, it is a folder tray! Even better – it was $24.99 (+25% off!) what a steal!

I also have been craving a new pencil holder. Currently my pencil holder at work is a snowman pail. Needless to say, I needed an upgrade. I found Lime Tree Gifts. I am pretty sure Jill is my Etsy soul mate. She is absolutely amazing – and was willing to work with my big order. (My co-worker joined in on the upgrade parade). This is what we ended up with…

Everything looks SO nice – and it was very reasonably priced. The pencil holder was only $10 (including monogram!), the tray (which is actually a really nice larger size) was $14 and the little mini tray was $8!! Such a steal for something that looks so nice and put-together. So here is what my new ensemble looks like…

I love it! And I think it also kind of goes with the whole color-blocking style that is going on this summer, and also purple and orange look great! But back to Lime Tree Gifts… I already have a LONG wish list of things I will order if (hopefully when!) I get a full time job… (click on the picture to link back to their shop!)

1. 20 oz Insulated Acrylic Tumbler – $16.50, I drink more water than anyone I know (save Martha) I am currently sipping out of a normal water bottle… which is not nearly as cool as a personalized tumbler. :-)

2. Acrylic Candy Jar – $12.50, One of the ladies at work always has candy in her office. So whenever I am having a bad day I will head to her office, grab a Starburst and chat – I am sure it doesn’t do wonders for her productivity, but it is appreciated on my end!

3. Acrylic Soap Dispenser – $10.00, Germs freak the heck out of me. ‘Nuff said.

4. Napkin Holder – $10.00, So I may not have napkins at work… but I think this could be a really nice letter holder! From the stuff I have received from Lime Tree the acrylic is super sturdy and I think it would look beautiful!

5. Recipe Box – $32.00, I don’t even need to explain why this is awesome.

6. Divided Catch All – $15.00, Paperclips? Check. Pushpins? Check. Binder clips? Check. Places for all = a happy OCD Amanda.

So this basically turned out as an ode to Lime Tree Gifts… but I love them! Go shop at their store and contact Jill if you want to do a bulk order – she has an incredibly fast response. Basically she’s awesome.

Happy Office-ing!

Amanda

Chevron: A Love Story

I’ve joked with my friend who is six months pregnant that I have caught her nesting bug. I have been searching Pinterest, Michael’s, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Marshall’s,  Home Goods – ANYWHERE looking for a gray chevron pillow… and this is why…

I absolutely LOVE chevron. And it has nothing to do with some childhood attachment to Peanuts and Charlie Brown. I just love the slightly preppy-zany style it adds to a room. My bedroom is currently all dark wood furniture…

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…with dark purple curtains.

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I have a white comforter as well as white pillows and a beautiful purple pillow that matches my curtains. I was also sporting this funky gray rug from Ikea. (Yes, it’s $20!!!)

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But something was missing – something zany if you will. So I started searching Pinterest for some inspiration… and I came across this chair… oh my heavens. I needed it, I wanted it, and most likely I couldn’t afford it…

…So I headed to where all people go when they can’t afford something, dearly beloved Etsy. There I found my pillow soul mates – The Pillow People. I literally favorited about thirty gray chevron pillows before deciding to purchase from “The Pillow People,” – and I am SO glad I did!

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The pillows came this weekend and are made of the most amazing quality fabric. The print itself is absolutely beautiful, and I am so happy with my order! Now I am starting to settle and the infectious nesting bug has begun to subside. I am including some of my favorite chevron Pinterest finds, for your viewing pleasure…

Happy Chevron!

Amanda