20 March 2012

spinach and feta fritatta

It's been a while since I made an egg-based breakfast item, so here's a spinach and feta fritatta chock full of flavor and is healthy, too:
I'm a huge fan of these eggy bakes because you can make them ahead of time, choose any variety of flavor combinations (see here, here, or here). You can make them with meat or straight up veggie, like this one. This is obviously mostly spinach. Not gonna lie, I don't know all the specifics and I'm not a nutritionist or any kind of health professional, but I know it's one of those super veggies that's full of vitamins and fiber and stuff. Look how GREEN. You just know that HAS to be healthy! 
Now, it's not JUST spinach in there. There's a bunch of feta for a salty punch, onions for sweetness, and tomatoes for color and some acidity. I cut it into 4 hearty pieces because this'll be my breakfast for the week. Mmmm healthy.

Spinach and Feta Fritatta

10 oz box frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 C fat free or regular feta
6 eggs
3 egg whites
a spot of oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8 glass baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Beat eggs and egg whites in a large bowl (something that gives you space to really get some air whisked in). Salt and pepper. Set aside.

Saute onion in a bit of oil over medium heat until it softens. Add in the spinach and evenly mix. Add salt and pepper. Mix in the tomatoes, then stir to mix evenly.

Give the eggs one more beating to incorporate some air and pour into the baking dish. Evenly add in the spinach mixture. Evenly sprinkle the feta. Use a spoon or fork to mix spinach and feta into eggs. 

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until center is set. After you take it out of the oven, use a knife or offset spatula and run it against the sides to separate the egg from the sides. Allow to cool a bit. You can cut it into as few as 2 pieces or as many as 8. Enjoy.

05 March 2012

slammin' shepherds pie

I love Sundays because I have plenty of time to cook something from scratch. None of this tired or rushed throwing a meal together stuff - that's the rest of the week for me, haha. Nope. Sundays I happily "slave" over a hot stove taking the time to season and taste and really enjoy the process of creating something delicious. Like this shepherds pie:
When I think of shepherds pie, this is EXACTLY how I imagine it should taste. It's meaty and has just enough gravy. Being a potato lover, I went slightly overboard with the mashed potato topping... although, really, is there such thing as too much mashed potatoes? It's hearty comfort in a pie dish, the kind of meal that makes a man go back for seconds, thirds, and probably fourths, depending on how much you scooped out each time. And IF there are leftovers, it reheats wonderfully to make a perfect Monday night leftovers dinner :-)

Shepherds Pie
adapted from allrecipes

Meat Filling
1 lb ground beef (I used 80/20, but I'd go up to but no more than 90/10)
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 C chopped baby carrots (cut them into thirds, so they're about 1/2")
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 dried rosemary, then crush between your fingers
2 tsp dried parsley
1 1/2 C reduced sodium beef broth
3 Tbsp tomato puree (because I had some leftover, better than having to open a new can of paste)
1 C frozen peas
salt and pepper to taste

Potato Topping
4-5 yukon gold potatoes, peeled
4-5 tbsp butter, cubed
1/2 C milk
1/2 C heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
handful or two of shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Special equipment: 9" pie or tart dish, and optionally an ice cream scoop

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and then start the potatoes because you can make the meat filling while you're waiting for the taters to come to a boil and cook: Cut potatoes in half lengthwise, then cut each half into even quarters. Put in a large pot or stock pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a rolling boil. Cook about 10-15 minutes or until fork tender.

Heat a large pan (10"-12" and deep enough to fit the meat filling) over medium heat, and add the meat. Break up with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle a light layer of salt. (You may want to spoon off some of the fat that releases. Or not!) Add in onion and carrots and cook, stirring regularly, until meat is brown and onions are just starting to turn brown. Stir in frozen peas.

Stir in the flour, oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, and parsley. Evenly combine broth and tomato puree in a bowl, then pour into the meat mixture. Add a little bit more salt and a few grinds of pepper and stir. (Don't add too much salt and pepper yet because the gravy will reduce, concentrating the flavors.) Simmer, reducing the liquid until you get to the gravy consistency you want (mine took about 15-20 min). Taste and season with more salt/pepper to your liking.

Let's not forget about the taters! While the meat is simmering, keep an eye on the potatoes. Drain them after they are fork tender, then return to the pot. Mash lightly, then add in butter, milk, and cream. Mash and whip until fluffy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the meat filling into the pie dish. Use the ice cream scoop to plop out an even layer of the potatoes over the meat. (You don't have to use a scoop - it's just a fast way to create a layer that'll be easy to spread evenly.) Spread out the potatoes to create an even layer, or get all artsy and make a design or something. Sprinkle with cheese. Put onto a baking sheet (to catch anything that drips) and put into the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and the cheese is melted. You can also add the step of turning on the broiler for a few minutes to get a browned crispy top... I plan to do that next time.
It's going to be ridiculously hot, so give it a while to cool down before you chow down!

27 February 2012

quinoa cereal with blueberries, cranberries, and almonds

The first time I had quinoa was as a dinner side dish - warm, savory and delicious with pistachios and dried cherries and some kind of vinaigrette. I've been curious about it since, scanning the interwebs for recipe ideas. Somehow or other I ended up making it sweet (shocker, lol), and as breakfast: quinoa "cereal" with milk, fresh blueberries, dried cranberries, and roasted almonds for crunch. Can we say HEALTHY?!
So, what is quinoa? Quinoa, pronounced "keen-wah", is something of a trendy health food that's making its way mainstream. By trendy I mean most people don't know what the heck it is, unless you're a blogger or a health foodie... but I hear about it more frequently (maybe because I'm both a blogger and foodie?) and am seeing it on more grocery shelves. Also, it's a seed, not a grain, even though it's often sold in the grain section because of the similar look and texture. It reminds me of a nuttier couscous. It's also a nutritional powerhouse, apparently, being an excellent source of protein and fiber and amino acids.

As breakfast, you can mix in lots of different fruits, dry or fresh. The quinoa itself provides many little mini crunches, but I need something bigger like almonds or pistachios for real textural interest. Next time I'd like it with blueberries and diced mango. I may also mix in some cinnamon and nutmeg and heat it up for more of a porridge feel, too. Lots of options here... as I'll also be using it as a dinner side in the future, so stand by for recipes one day.

Breakfast Quinoa Cereal for One
adapted from klutzy chef

1 C cooked quinoa (see below on how to prepare quinoa)
1/2 C vanilla soy/almond milk (or regular milk with 1/4 tsp vanilla extract)
1 tsp sugar (or other sweetener like agave or maybe maple syrup) to taste
1/2 C fresh blueberries
1/4 C dried cranberries
handful of roasted unsalted almonds, chopped

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix. Eat.
You can also heat up the quinoa, milk, and sweetener and then add everything else to it, too.
How to Cook Plain Quinoa

1 C quinoa
2 C water

Rinse dry quinoa in a fine mesh strainer under warm water for a few minutes. You're doing this to remove the bitter saponins (nope don't know what that is, but I don't like bitter, so I rinsed).

The instructions on my box of red quinoa said to put quinoa and water into a small pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Take off heat and allow to sit, covered, for 10 more minutes. Fluff with a fork.

13 February 2012

PB&C Love Blossoms

There's a certain balance, complementing, and enhancing going on when sweet and salty get together. Like, who doesn't love the delicious union of chocolate and peanut butter? (Except maybe people allergic to peanuts... or chocolate...)
So if you need something salty for your sweetheart, or to sweeten up your salty friends... make these cute lil peanut butter and chocolate love blossoms. You can use the traditional chocolate kisses, but I thought the Dove chocolate hearts (thus "love") would be adorable for Valentine's Day or any day :-)

PB&C Love Blossoms
very slightly adapted from Bake at 350

1/2 C butter
3/4 C creamy peanut butter
1/3 C white sugar
1/4 C brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 C flour
44 chocolate hearts or kisses, unwrapped (you can unwrap while cookies bake)
more white sugar plus pink or red fine sanding sugar for rolling

Preheat the oven to 375.

Beat together the butter and peanut butter until smooth and combined. Beat in the sugars until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined. Add the soda and salt and mix until evenly distributed. Add the flour 1/2 C at a time, beating after each addition.

Mix about 1/4 C sugar and a few tablespoons of the colored sanding sugar into a small bowl. You can control just how intense the color is by how much of the colored sugar you add. I just wanted a hint, a blush of pink.

Scoop dough and roll into 1" diameter balls (I used my 1" scoop, pretty easy hehe). Roll in the sanding sugar and place on the lined cookie sheets about 1-2" apart. They won't spread much, so I was able to fit 20 on one sheet. Bake for 8-9 minutes or until just golden.

As soon as they come out of the oven, carefully press a heart or kiss into each cookie. Allow to cool. Eat or share!
One afterthought: If you're like me and happen to eat a bunch of chocolates while you're prepping and suddenly find that you won't have enough for every cookie you make... before baking, just use your fork to press criss-crosses into them and bake for 6-7 minutes.  Also cute!

11 February 2012

chocolate cut out cookies for your valentine

On Valentine's Day (and several other special days of the year, to include birthdays, weddings, and when my softball team wins), I want nothing more than to be sappy, happy, sentimental, and surrounded by puffy hearts and twinkly lights and pretty flowers. Yay hearts!
Regardless of if I'm single or lucky enough to be with a kinda awesome dude (hi!), I cheese OUT for Valentine's Day. My life is and always has been filled with love, and I get to "officially" recognize just how lovely life can be. I've been blessed with family that's pretty close despite the distances across states and continents (thanks Facebook). I've kept only the best of people in my life as friends and more (hi again, you rock!). Many of those friends have kept me company since childhood (high five to longevity). I have never had a traumatic Valentine's Day (heck one of my favorite ones was maybe 15 years ago spending a night with my other single girls giggling and watching a hot young Brad Pitt in Thelma and Louise). I never want for good food cuz I'm the one making it, haha. I get to SHARE said good food with the people in my life. Oh, and my car is hot and my home is cozy. Yup, lots of/to love in my life.

So, allow me to sweeten life up even more with some chocolate and hearts in one little cookie. I hope you get a chance to make these for someone who has made your life a little better, or for someone whose life you want to make better, or for yourself, cuz you make your own life Awesome.

Because these cookies ARE awesome. Perfect for Valentines Day, or maybe a bridal shower using the bride's colors, hehe (hi Miatta, congrats!). They taste like thin brownies. They're easy to work with and hold their shape, too. Instead of royal icing, I decorated with glace icing. I'm still pretty new to piping and stuff, so it's better you go HERE for the recipe and instructions. One note is that they do need to dry overnight, so plan ahead! They turned out dainty and pretty, and I hope the person getting these will love them as much as I do!
Brownie Roll Out Cookies
Adapted from The Busty Baker

3 C flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 C cocoa powder (I used dutch processed)
1/2 tsp espresso powder
2 sticks butter
1 1/3 C sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

Sift together all the dry ingredients (from the flour to the espresso powder). Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat eggs in one at a time until combined. Mix in vanilla. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients until smooth. Make sure to scrape down the sides a few times to make sure it's even.

Separate dough into 3 quart bags. Flatten out so it's about 1" thick, then press out the air and zip closed. Refrigerate at least an hour or overnight.

When ready to roll out cookies... preheat oven to 350. Flour your work surface, turn a pack of dough out onto it, flour that and flour the rolling pin. Roll out your cookies to about 1/8" to 1/4" thickness. Cut out and lay on parchment lined baking sheets. It's best to chill cookies on the pan for another 5-10 minutes before you bake. I baked the small 2" cookies for 5-6 minutes, and the larger 3-4" cookies for 6-7 minutes. Allow to cool on the pan.

When completely cool, decorate with icing (again, see this link) and allow to dry overnight so you can stack them.

08 February 2012

kale and potato fritatta

I bought a bunch of kale the other day with the intent of making a green smoothie. You know... a fruit smoothie blended with with some a super veggie for extra nutrients. Yep, didn't quite get around to that, whoops. But I didn't want the kale to go to waste and I've needed another grab and go breakfast anyways so viola, breakfast fritatta!
I was originally just going to make a straight kale and onion fritatta until I saw the link for adding potatoes, and what a great idea! It gives the fritatta some heft and textural interest. I wasn't intentionally going the vegetarian route, so if you wanna throw in some meat, brown up some sausage and throw it in there, too.

Kale and Potato Fritatta
slightly adapted from Eggs on a Sunday

1 Spanish onion, peeled, cut in half, and sliced into strips
2 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
3 C kale, remove the stem and chop into bite size pieces
2 tbsp canola oil
8 eggs
salt and pepper
special equipment: cast iron skillet or a skillet you can put into the oven

Preheat oven to 400. Beat eggs in a large bowl.

Heat skillet over medium heat. Add oil. Add potatoes, sprinkle with a light layer of salt, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add onions, sprinkle with another light layer of salt. Cook, stirring pretty regularly, until onions soften and start to turn golden and the potatoes are fork tender. (Add oil if potatoes stick to the bottom.) Add kale, sprinkle with a bit more salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper, and cook for 3-4 minutes or until wilted.

Give the eggs one more whirl with the whisk to make sure it's beaten and airy. Check that the bottom of the pan has a glisten of oil (so the eggs wont stick), and then pour the eggs over the veggies and stir until it's even. Stir a bit to make sure the kale and potatoes are evenly distributed, too.

Put in oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until it's all puffy. Take out of the oven. It will drop. Loosen the edges. Turn out onto a cutting board and cut into 6 pieces.

04 February 2012

stout brownies plus 6 savory Superbowl ideas

So the Superbowl is tomorrow. I'm a Redskins gal, so yeeaaaaahhhh... the game itself has never held that much excitement :-D For me, the Superbowl is good for exactly one thing: an opportunity to try out a new recipe! I opted for something sweet this year, but wanted to incorporate something superbowl-y. Like beer. Yup, there's beer in these here sweets: Stout Brownies.
I used double chocolate stout in these brownies, yum, and they have a deep chocolately flavor with a hint of the stout. I'm having a hard time explaining the texture, though. They don't have the crackly top or crisp edges that I love in brownies, but they do have an airy fudgy texture. Almost like a substantial, dense mousse. Like the freaky child of a cakey and fudgey brownie... they look like cake but melt like fudge. They'd benefit from chocolate chips to add textural interest, so I'll do that for tomorrow. Hopefully they'll be a nice balance to all the savory food I'll be pigging out on!

Stout Brownies
adapted from We Are Not Martha

1 C chocolate stout
2/3 C flour
1/2 C cocoa powder (I used dutch processed)
1/4 tsp salt
5 oz chocolate (I used 60%)
1 stick butter
1 C white sugar
2  large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 365. Line a 9x9 metal baking dish with foil or parchment with a 1-2" overhang.

Pour 1 C stout into a liquid measuring cup (don't count the foam!) and allow to settle. Sift together the flour, cocoa, and salt and set aside.

In a double boiler (I used a metal bowl over a small pot of simmering water, make sure the bowl doesn't touch the water!), melt the chocolate and butter until smooth. Take off heat. Beat in sugar until thoroughly combined. Allow to cool to lukewarm. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla. Mix in the stout. Whisk in the dry ingredients until combined. (It will be a more liquidy batter than thick.)

Pour into prepared baking pan and bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick poked in comes out mostly clean. Allow to cool. cut into 25 (or 16) pieces. Enjoy!

AAAAANNNND.... Not in the mood for a sweet something at Superbowl? Here are 6 ideas for savory goods you can make, too: 

My absolute most favorite Guacamole and some Pico de Gallo

Turkey Chili (with lots of cheese!)

03 February 2012

morning glory muffins

I'm not a morning person. At all. I sleep until I have EXACTLY enough time to shower, groom, maybe blow dry my hair (more often then not I put it in a bun or pony tail), and (hopefully) make it to my daily 8:15 meeting on time. I don't take my time to do all that stuff, either, I hustle, checking my watch every free second I have. So unless it's a lazy weekend, my breakfast had better be grab and go... like a muffin!
I've been wanting something more substantial than yogurt and fruit, so I tried my hand at these healthy, not too sweet breakfast muffins. These are not your light almost cupcake like muffins you'll find at the store... these are hearty and dense, made with both yogurt and fruit plus whole wheat flour and oats and flax to boost the fiber content. This by itself plus a cup of coffee will last me until about 11, but when I eat it with another piece of fruit, I'm good until lunch time. Added bonus - they freeze well*, so you can grab a frozen one and have it as a nice 3pm snack to help you last until dinner. Morning, noon, or even night, these make a great treat.

Morning Glory Muffins
adapted from Cooking Light

1 C white whole wheat flour
1/2 C all purpose flour
1 C old fashioned oats
1/2 C brown sugar
3 Tbsp flax meal
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 bananas, mashed
6 oz plain Greek yogurt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 C chopped walnuts
1/2 C pitted dates, chopped
1/2 C dried apricots, chopped
1/2 C dried cranberries, rough chopped
turbinado sugar, for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare muffin tins -- spray 18 liners with cooking spray then put in tins.

Thoroughly combine all dry ingredients (from the flour to the salt) in a large bowl. Combine all the wet ingredients (from the bananas to the vanilla) in a smaller bowl and mix well.

Make a well in the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and stir until about 80% combined. Fold in the add ins (from the walnuts to the cranberries) until evenly distributed and batter is just combined. Dish out evenly into the 18 liners. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until a a toothpick inserted comes out dry.

* If freezing, wait until they're cooled. Wrap in two layers of plastic wrap and then put into a freezer zip top bag.

17 January 2012

southwest seasoning and a quick quesadilla

Say hello to tonight's dinner:
This delightful little quesadilla was perfect for one person and took me all of 10 minutes to put together because everything* was premade, including some cooked, seasoned chicken thighs I had in my fridge. All I had to do was slice some up and add it in.
I try to keep cooked chicken thighs in my fridge for quick dinners. Thighs, not breasts. I don't know what it is about chicken breasts but I can NOT cook them well. One time I boiled a chicken breast - boiled, like in liquid - and it STILL turned out dry and chalky. Ever since then I'm strictly a thigh girl, lol.

I'll buy a pack of organic thighs and then forget about them until the day they're almost bad, lol, and then bake them all off. I usually line a 9x13 with little sections of foil with edges folded up so that there are little compartments, then add different seasonings. A couple are simple salt and pepper in case I want to make chicken salad. I'll add lemon pepper to another, and in this case, I seasoned some with Emeril's spicy southwest seasoning.  Banging seasoning, btw, and I highly recommend you try it, thus, a recipe. I like heat, so I upped the hot ingredients, but feel free to use Emeril's original proportions.

Emeril's Southwest Seasoning Blend

2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp Mexican oregano
1 Tbsp salt
1 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp chipotle chile powder
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients and blend well. Store in an airtight container away from sunlight and heat.

I trimmed the fat off the thighs then seasoned liberally with this southwest seasoning. I then baked them at 350 for around 20 minutes. I cut one open to make sure they were done... best to check because thickness varies

* Bonus note. The guacamole I had with that quesadilla was NOT my normal guacamole recipe. I was in a rush, and thus my recipe for insta-guac: mash up an avocado, mix in enough bottled salsa to suit your tastes. Viola.

05 January 2012

French Dip Sandwiches

Perfeclty rare meat + buttered crusty bread dunked in jus = comfort and joy.
My brother introduced me to the french dip au jus (with juice) sandwich in LA around 10 years ago. I thought it was ridiculous he'd pay nearly $20 for a meat sandwich. But oh my, was it so worth it! Every GOOD french dip I've had has been that pricey, presumably because of the pile of thin slices of quality roasted beef, so that became my goal for making my own. While I saw different seasoning recipes all over the webs, it was on an episode of Diners, Drive Ins and Dives that I saw someone use Montreal steak seasoning before roasting. That's one of the few spice blends I use regularly because it's well balanced. That plus some extra thyme, garlic, and salt made for an exceptionally crusted and flavored meat that I roasted rare - we could eat the meat all by itself...and we did!

But it is a sandwich after all, so it was better on a fresh, buttered, toasted crisp french roll. Want to kick up the flavor and some extra texture? Add a slice of provolone, too, and broil until melted. Soak each bite in that jus and try not to dribble all over yourself while eating it!

Slow Roasted Beef
adapted from Teri's Kitchen

2.5 to 3 lb sirloin roast, brought to room temperature
Montreal steak seasoning
dried thyme
garlic powder
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp butter
Special equipment: probe thermometer, dutch oven

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Heat a dutch oven (large enough to fit roast) over medium high heat.

Season all sides of roast with an even layer of steak seasoning, thyme, and an extra dusting of garlic powder and salt. Pat down so the herbs stick.

Make sure the oil is really hot and add the roast. Sear - about 2 minutes each side - until browned. Insert a probe thermometer about halfway into roast. Put roast, uncovered, into oven and cook until it reaches 130 degrees for rare (around 2 hours).

Take off the heat and allow to rest. When ready to eat, slice into thin slices -- thinner than these in this pic. Mmm look how perfectly rare and juicy!
Au Jus
pan drippings from the roast beef
1/2 carton of reduced sodium beef broth
1 to 1-1/2 C water
1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1-2 Tbsp butter

Put the dutch oven with all the beef drippings on the stove over medium heat. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer about 15 minutes, or until it reaches the flavor you like. Pour through a fine mesh strainer to remove the chunky parts. Serve hot with the sandwiches.

And now I can knock off the first item on my 2012 Hit List, hooray!

02 January 2012

egg and potato breakfast bake

Say hello to my very first meal of 2012! I had people over for NYE, and I wanted to make sure they woke up to something home cooked. So I brewed some coffee and got to work in the kitchen on this filling and possibly even sorta healthy casserole. And then I fried up a bunch of bacon to go with it :-) It tasted great topped with leftover guacamole and some sour cream, and I bet salsa would have gone really well with it, too - now I know for next time! Not a bad way to start the year at all.
You could sub out frozen Potatoes O' Brien, but I bought a big bag of potatoes I needed to use. I roasted them with salt and pepper and olive oil for about 25 minutes at 450 a few days in advance and then just kept them in the fridge. You could also make the onions/pepper in advance, too. If you like a little kick, fine dice a seeded jalapeno or serrano pepper and toss it in with it, too. This is kinda like a really big, southwesternish tortilla espanola :)

Egg and Potato Breakfast Bake
adapted from A Communal Table

2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, cubed into 1" pieces and roasted ahead of time
3/4 large sweet onion, diced (
1 red bell pepper, seeded and deveined and diced
1 Tbsp canola or olive oil
1 1/2 C shredded Mexican cheese blend
12 eggs
1/2 C milk
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Put potatoes into a big bowl.

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute onion in some canola/olive oil (or bacon grease, if you have any on hand, yum!) until it starts to get translucent. Add in the bell pepper and saute another few minutes until onion is soft. Season with a big pinch of salt and stir. Add to the potatoes and toss until evenly incorporated. Dump in an even layer into baking dish. Spread the cheese evenly over the taters.

In a large bowl, whisk/beat eggs until completely combined and starting to get fluffy. Season with a generous pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Whisk in the milk. Pour over the potatoes and cheese.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until middle is set. You should be able to insert a knife and it'll come out clean.

Happy 2012: It's Hit List Time again!

My 31st birthday was the day before NYE, and I celebrated with ridiculous food, a movie, and later drinks and dancing surrounded by lots of friends. And if that wasn't Yay enough, the next night I ended 2011 and begin 2012 on an Unexpectedly high note... I really couldn't have asked for a better transition of time.

So of course, it being the new year, it's resolution time. For me, 2012 is devoted to moving forward with optimism and strength. Changes are coming, and commitments will be kept.

First commitment involves my family... both of my brothers are flying in to run a half marathon with me (plus two more of my friends) in March. I don't care how long it takes me (but no more than the 5.5 hr limit, haha), but I will cross that finish line. That means I should probably head to the gym today to restart training ;-) That's actually tied in pretty well with my next resolution to strengthen relationships. More phone calls and emails, more making time to see people, more being involved in their lives. So... to my friends out of state, get your couches ready!

And of course, as food is one of the great loves of my life, here are my food resolutions. My 2012 Hit List involves finishing the unconquered foods from Hit Lists past (2010 and 2011):

1) chicken stock from scratch
2) chicharon de cerdo
3) patatas bravas
4) pain au chocolate
5) french dip completed 1/5/12
6) tamales
7) baked char siu bao
8) cheese souffle a la Panera
9) garlic knots a la C&Os Trattoria
10) thai rice pudding with mango
11) *successful* matzo ball soup
12) my mom's mocha cake