Healthy Recipe: Garden Vegetable Crustless Quiche

Memorial Day weekend is over and it's back to life, back to reality, and perhaps most importantly, back to a healthy eating routine. I don't know about you, but for our family Memorial Day seemed to mean remembering how crappy you can feel after three days of stuffing your face with bad-for-you (albeit delicious) foods like Kettle's Salt & Pepper chips, homemade guacamole, Hebrew National hot dogs and chocolate chip brownies. Did I mention they were all washed down with bottomless margaritas? Suffice to say Fabulous Flavortown quickly went the way of Heartburn City.

All we want this week is to get back on track and I have a few foolproof recipes that will do just the trick. One of my favorite healthy recipes is a crustless vegetable quiche from Cooking Light, loaded with waistline-friendly zucchini, mushrooms, bell pepper, tomatoes, eggs and low-fat cheeses. Unlike traditional quiches this one is made without a butter-laden crust, cutting tons of calories and fat. What it does have in spades, however, is flavor. All the Spring vegetables combined with fluffy eggs and sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese make for a fantastic dish, whether it's for breakfast, lunch or dinner. So make it, enjoy it and save this recipe... you'll want it again and again.

Crustless Vegetable Quiche
Serves 8

  • 1 1/2 cups egg substitute
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded reduced-fat extra sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (16-ounce) carton fat-free cottage cheese
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 cups sliced zucchini (about 4)
  • 2 cups diced potato with onion (such as Simply Potatoes or Trader Joe's potato patties)
  • 1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper (about 1)
  • 1 (8-ounce) package pre-sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced

To make the quiche: Preheat oven to 400°. Beat egg substitute and eggs in a large bowl until fluffy. Add 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, 3/4 cup Jack cheese, milk, flour, baking powder, salt, and cottage cheese. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add zucchini and the next 3 ingredients (through mushrooms); sauté for 5 minutes or until tender.

Add the zucchini mixture and parsley to egg mixture. Pour mixture into a 3-quart casserole dish coated with cooking spray. 

Top with the remaining 3/4 cup cheddar cheese and 3/4 cup Jack cheese. Arrange tomato slices over cheese.

Bake at 400° for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° (do not remove dish from oven), and bake for 35 minutes or until lightly browned and set. Remove from the oven, cut into pieces and serve immediately. Enjoy!


Cupcake "Burgers" + BBQ Cakepops = Memorial Day Desserts!

Duncan Hines' Grill Cake Pops
I can't think of a better way to celebrate a long weekend (err... Memorial Day) than by spending quality time outdoors with family and friends, beer in hand, burgers on the grill. Summer might not "officially" start until June 20, but Memorial Day weekend is practically the gateway to the beach and BBQ season. If you want to really make your BBQ menu blow your guests' minds, here are a few grill-themed desserts to whip up: my cupcake "burgers," cake pops that resemble miniature BBQ grills, and delicately latticed apple "pie" cupcakes. Check them out below, with links to the recipes.

Duncan Hines' recipe for itty-bitty, realistic dessert replicas of a BBQ grill takes some time -- we're talking about 18 hours, from start to finish -- but the time investment will be well worth it when you see your guests' awe-struck reactions. The "grills" are cleverly constructed from candy melts, Tootsie Rolls (burger meat), Jelly Beans (peppers), Mike & Ike/Hot Tamales (hotdogs), and Starburst mixed with Caramel (steaks). Oh, cake mix and frosting are hidden inside, too.

My cupcake burgers (see left) take much less time and I'd like to say have a similar "wow" factor. I've made them for birthday parties and summer softball games, and each time they've been scarfed down by impressed onlookers. The ingredients are fairly standard: cake mix, brownie mix, vanilla frosting, and red (ketchup), yellow (mustard) and green (lettuce) food coloring. Sesame seeds are optional but add a cool touch to the burger "buns." Give yourself about four hours to make these, as you'll need time to let the brownies and cupcakes completely cool (no runny condiments here), cut out the brownies, mix the "condiments" to their appropriate shades, and let the finished burgers set up.

Finally, another beautiful, self-serve dessert from Mommy Topics (see right) that appropriately rings in the summer months are apple pie cupcakes with a frosting lattice "crust." The great thing about these cuties is that they can be made for any patriotic-themed holiday... 4th of July, anyone? The cupcakes are topped with fresh or canned fruit, then icing is piped to mimic a pie crust pattern. Use your imagination when it comes to the fruit "filling;" apple, cherry, peach, raspberry, blueberry, blackberry... the world is your dessert oyster!

Whatever you make, enjoy your weekend! It's been a long, busy year already and we all deserve some good R and R. Especially if said downtime includes indulging on some of these clever desserts. Just remember calories don't count on holidays! Happy Memorial Day!


Brownie Pudding: The Chocolate Lover's Go-To Dessert

Move over chocolate lava cake, Brownie Pudding is in town!
Photo courtesy: AHungrySpoon
Food and Wine Magazine recently published an article entitled, "5 Signs You've Picked a Bad Restaurant." While a few of the signs make sense -- for example, it's never good to be ushered into a restaurant off the street -- Sign #3 might as well be culinary blaspheme: chocolate lava cake.

How can a hot-out-of-the-oven, decadent chocolate cake filled with oozing chocolate ganache (read: lava) be a bad thing? I understand that the dessert may have jumped the shark -- Food and Wine insists that "apathetic Italian, Asian and American restaurants" all serve the "now identity-free dessert" -- but I can't deny it's delicious.

That said, if the culinary geniuses at Food and Wine say we can't indulge in chocolate lava cake anymore, we should listen. And lucky for us, I've found an even better substitute for the dessert-that-shall-not-be-named: Chocolate Brownie Pudding. Think crème brûlée meets chocolate lava cake: a crunchy chocolate exterior protects a gooey- molten brownie center. Ina Garten is the brainchild behind this recipe, exclaiming "The edges bake like a brownie and the insides are like molten chocolate. Your friends really will go crazy." I've made it several times now and it's become my go-to dessert. Ina couldn't be more right.

Chocolate Brownie Pudding
Adapted from Ina Garten's Back to Basic's cookbook
Makes 6 servings

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering the dish
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup good cocoa powder (Trader Joe's brand is great)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 tablespoon framboise or Cointreau liqueur, optional
  • Vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream, for serving
Directions: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly butter a 2-quart (9 by 12 by 2-inch) oval baking dish. Melt the 1/2 pound of butter and set aside to cool.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 5 to 10 minutes, until very thick and light yellow. Meanwhile, sift the cocoa powder and flour together and set aside.

When the egg and sugar mixture is ready, reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla seeds, framboise, if using, and the cocoa powder and flour mixture. Mix only until combined. With mixer still on low, slowly pour in the cooled butter and mix again just until combined.

Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared dish and place it in a larger baking pan. Add enough of the hottest tap water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish and bake for exactly 1 hour. A cake tester inserted 2 inches from the side will come out 3/4 clean. The center will appear very under-baked; this dessert is between a brownie and a pudding.

Allow to cool and serve with vanilla ice cream.


Philly's Latest Food Trend: The Steak Knife Tray

Philly's Barclay Prime Steakhouse
In LA restaurants, the bread tray is the star. Waiters at Mozza and Providence flit around their respective dining rooms offering patrons warm pieces of country white, multi-grain and even bacon and seaweed breads. In Chicago, steak take bread's place, with diners hand-picking their cut of prime filet, ribeye or porterhouse off of silver trays loaded with Midwest-grown beef. Last week, during my first trip to Philly, I encountered a new (and slightly over-the-top) tray trend: the steak knife tray.

The place: Barclay Prime Steakhouse in Philly's bustling Rittenhouse Square. The restaurant, which occupies the first floor of what once was a luxury boutique hotel in the late 1920's, couples a glamorous, old-world decor with decidedly modern accents. Guests are surrounded by richly-hued wood-paneled walls, bask in the glow of no-less-than-six crystal chandeliers, lounge in stark green and white leather chairs and rest their glasses on gleaming Carrera marble tabletops. The luxury doesn't stop there, either. Order one of Barclay Prime's tantalizing steaks and you'll soon encounter perhaps the restaurant's most unique feature: the steak knife tray.

The latest "tray"trend: Barclay Prime's Steak Knife Tray
The tray itself is a focal point: bright green leather (pleather?) with a faux snakeskin finish. On it were five distinct knife options, each one proudly exhibiting a different steak-cutting advantage. My skepticism turned to intrigue when our waiter launched into the most sincere, awe-inspiring description of each knife: (from left to right in the photo above) "The Henkel, a longer stainless steel knife with better 'grip' ergonomics and more substantive cutting leverage; the Wusthof, perfect for select bone-in cuts, like a rib-eye or filet; the Shun, a shorter Samurai-style knife, light but strong and made from 16 layers of compressed metal; the Global, heavy but well-balanced, with weight that's easy to control; and finally, the Porsche Chromatype 301, with its ergonomic handle and a metal 'pearl' that dictates the end of the handle."

We were encouraged to touch each one, roll it around in our hands, try "sample cuts" (cutting an invisible steak just doesn't have the same effect, trust me) and make our selections. My friend chose the Shun, which sliced through her 8-ounce filet like butter. I went with the Global, simply to try something new. It was fine, comparable to its Shun/Henkel/Wusthof companions. The one stand-out was the Porsche knife (yes, that Porsche), but not in a good way. It was heavy with an overwhelmingly awkward handle. Not to mention, the metal "pearl" left divots in your fingers. No bueno.

No word on when the knife tray trend might make its way to LA, but I have to say it definitely left an impression on me. In the meantime, I'll have to stick with Providence's bread. One bacon roll, please.

Barclay Prime
237 South 18th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 732-7560

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