Summer Bucket List

As the end of the spring semester is (somehow) rapidly approaching, I have found myself constantly telling myself I’ll do things over the summer. “When I actually have free time, I definitely want to…” is a phrase I feel myself saying more and more frequently. The following is a list of TV shows, recipes and books I want to get through when I have some time off from school and extracurricular responsibilities.

  1. Watch: The Wire. I have only heard great things about this show. As someone who loves mob and mafia movies (hello, Goodfellas), I’ve been told I would be obsessed with The Wire.
  2. Read: The rest of the Game of Thrones books. Well considering how long they are, that might be ambitious. I at least want to  start reading them again. Last summer I read the first book, and simply didn’t have time to dive into the second. Now that the show is back, I would love to get ahead of the TV storyline! 
  3. Make: Hi-Hat Cupcakes. This was a goal of mine last summer. I actually wanted to make them for my own birthday, but struggled with the meringue frosting. Luckily the cupcakes still tasted good, I just gave up on doing the dipping part. There are so many tutorials and tips on how to successfully coat the frosting in chocolate, I’m hoping I can finally make these!
  4. Watch: Breaking Bad. Now that the obsession has died down over this show, I think I can truly enjoy it. Hearing people freak out over what was going on in every new episode was pretty standard when it was still on, but I had no idea what any of the things people were talking about meant. Starting from the beginning, I know I won’t remember any of the spoilers people said. I can’t wait!
  5. Read: The Monuments Men. I actually started reading this book over winter break in hopes of finishing before the movie came out, which was clearly unsuccessful. I enjoyed the book, I just didn’t have time to keep up with it.
  6. Make: Bread from scratch. I don’t have a particular recipe in mind just yet, but the thought of using yeast has always intimidated me. I know once I use it once I’ll get over it and be fine! To me, making a perfectly cooked loaf of bread would be a great achievement.

Bacon mushroom spinach crustless quiche.

This recipe also has no real backstory, but the name does. There are certain food words that I find very unappetizing, even if I like the food itself. I hate the word meat, but am not a vegetarian (despite the beliefs of many). Two others words I hate are eggs and casserole. Eggs reminds me of a bad smell, but I eat them all the time. I immediately associate the word casserole with a canned cream of something soup, which is not appealing to me.

So even though most people would call this recipe an “egg casserole,” I refuse to give it that name. I do, however, love the sound of a quiche, so that’s what this has become. Since quiches are defined by having a crust, we’re just going to get around that by labeling it a crustless quiche. Way more appealing than an egg casserole.

I made this while I was home last weekend for Easter. When figuring out what to make for brunch, I did things Chopped style and only used ingredients we had on hand. While I looked at other recipes for guidance on quantity, cooking temperature and time, the ingredients weren’t based on anything other than what sounded good to me at the time. That’s the beauty of a crustless quiche–it’s very adaptable based on your personal preferences. It also would be a great make-ahead breakfast, as one batch makes enough for at least a week and a half.

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Ingredients

  • 9 eggs
  • 3 cups spinach, chopped
  • 8 slices of bacon, cooked, chopped and divided
  • 1/2 cup white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (I used swiss), divided
  • Salt and pepper, if preferred

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease an 8×8 baking dish.

Scramble eggs in a large bowl, and add spinach, mushrooms, 1/2 cup cheese, 6 slices of bacon and salt and pepper if desired.

Pour egg mixture into baking dish, and top with the remaining cheese and bacon.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until cheese is slightly browned.

Enjoy!

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Tres Leches Cake.

This recipe, sadly, has no movie/TV story behind it. In trying to meet the particular requests of my brother when choosing a dessert to make, I hunted for a poke cake recipe that would gain his approval. This is regular sheet cake that is drenched in sweetened condensed milk (and sometimes other things too) and topped with whipped cream. They are gooey and sweet, and almost always taste better the day after they are made. Last summer, my mom made a Butterfinger poke cake that was gone in less than 24 hours.

The food blog world LOVES poke cakes, because they are so easy to customize. As I searched for the perfect one to make, I came across S’mores and White Chocolate Caramel versions that both looked great. My brother was not as excited by these choices as I was. As I continued searching, I came across this recipe for Tres Leches Cake. I have had this before, and somehow I never realized that it’s just a more impressive version of a poke cake. Not only do you make the cake and whipped cream from scratch, there’s also three different milks that get poured over the cake instead of just one.

The first layer is just a basic sponge cake. Really it just serves as a base for the milk mixture to be absorbed. It has a teaspoon of cinnamon, which, even through the rich sweetness of the milks, was noticeable. The milks gave me the most trouble in making this recipe. Per Sweet Pea’s Kitchen‘s recipe, I microwaved the sweetened condensed milk in a large bowl with plastic wrap covering it. I guess my version of “low power” was not low enough, because it bubbled over two times. Somehow after the first time getting drips of sweetened condensed milk all over the kitchen I did not learn my lesson. I’m pretty sure the bottom of my microwave will have a nice sugary coating for a little while.

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After thickening what I had left of the sweetened condensed milk, adding the heavy cream and evaporated milk was simple. Once everything was combined, I realized it was far too much liquid for the cake. The recipe recommended letting the cake soak for a maximum of 24 hours, so maybe this would have made the difference. Much like my cheesecake, I did not start baking early enough for the cake to have the proper amount of time to sit. The recipe called for at least 3 hours, I think I maybe gave it one.

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Stiff peaks!

Stiff peaks!

Once the whipped cream was made, I had to spoon out a lot of the excess milk mixture. Even though the cake didn’t sit for as long as it should have, it still tasted great! My family agreed this recipe is a keeper. If you want to try it out for yourself, head over to Sweet Pea’s Kitchen!

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Favorite Things II

(see link below for this recipe)

Dark chocolate coconut macaroons from Smitten Kitchen. These look so easy!

This chicken and vegetable pot pie from the magazine Real Simple. I’m planning on making it for a future post, so keep an eye out for it in the near future.

A review of Mad Men’s seventh and final season from Vulture. Can’t wait for it to come back tomorrow!

The news that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will be playing sisters in a new movie. I am automatically going to love this.

Toffee and milk chocolate peanut butter cookies from Averie Cooks. The ingredients in these are so simple (and gluten-free)!

Love and Olive Oil’s goat cheese and brussels sprout skillet pizza. I love everything involving both of those things, so I’m sure this would be a hit.

This peanut butter mousse from Minimalist Baker is only three ingredients AND vegan! Looks perfect.

These are links to great recipes and interesting pop culture-related articles. Just a few of my favorite things!

Beef and Barley Stew

The show: Game of Thrones

The recipe: Beef and Barley Stew

The story: I love Game of Thrones’ complicated stories, and am so glad the fourth season began last night. In honor of the show, I checked out the official food blog of Game of Thrones, The Inn at the Crossroads. Game of Thrones fans are so intense, they have created an official cookbook and corresponding blog! Yet another reason for me to love the show.

I chose this recipe in an attempt to branch out in my cooking. I rarely prepare meat, and I have never made any kind of soup or stew. While the blog had tons of recipes to choose from, I figured I would rather have this stew than some other options like boiled beans or venison pies.

This stew comes from the North of the Game of Thrones realm, where it is always cold. According to the recipe. the stew is supposed to thicken with the barley, which my version didn’t do very well. I added flour to try and compensate, but it still wound up being more of a soup than a stew. Nevertheless, it still tasted good! I was pleased with how it turned out.

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound beef stew meat, cut into small pieces
  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 8 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • 1-2 carrots, sliced small
  • ~10 whole pearl onions
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup pearl barley
  • 6 cup water
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cup beef broth
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbs. each butter and flour for roux (optional)

Put half the butter into saute pan, and brown the beef. Set aside. Add the rest of the butter, along with the mushrooms, carrots, onions, and garlic.

Saute for just a few minutes until the mushrooms are soft, making sure that the veggies get completely covered with butter.

Combine the meat, vegetables, and all other ingredients in a large pot. Simmer over medium heat for at least an hour, adding extra water or broth as the barley soaks it up. The starch from the barley will thicken the soup somewhat, but if you’d like it thicker, add a roux.

Melt the butter, and add flour. Stir to combine as the mixture until the color is golden. Add a ladle of broth, stirring all the while, then pour the whole mixture into the main pot.

 

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