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Spinach, broccoli and bacon quiche

It's been ages since I did a recipe post up on here! Let's remedy that, shall we? Cause I made a quiche today and I figured I should share. The recipe, that is, not the actual quiche. Sorry. Well, I mean, I have leftovers, but... don't show up at my house out of nowhere to collect them, okay? That would be slightly creepy.

You'll need the following:

  • 4-5 slices of frozen pie crust dough, thawed (about 1/2 lb)
  • 1/2 lb of bacon, diced
  • 1 small head of broccoli
  • 3-4oz of spinach
  • 6oz of grated cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 - 1 cup of semi-skimmed milk
  • powdered garlic, nutmeg, chili or cayenne pepper and mild paprika

Start by cooking the diced bacon in a dry frying pan. Depending on how fatty your bacon is, you may want to drain the bacon grease halfway through.

Cut off the broccoli florets and chop them into smaller pieces.You don't need the stalks for this recipe, but you can save them to make broccoli soup for lunch the next day. I was going to link you to my broccoli soup recipe here, since I was convinced I had written one in the past, but apparently I haven't. Huh. I think I may be posting another recipe tomorrow. :P Anyway, put your chopped-up broccoli into a microwave-safe bowl, add a bit of water, and pre-cook the broccoli in the microwave on high for about 4 minutes, then drain.

Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F). Grease up an oven dish -- you can use some of the bacon grease for this if you did drain it, otherwise use some oil or butter or cooking spray or whatever you'd normally use -- and cover the bottom and sides with the pie dough. Make sure to press the edges firmly together, and also, try to do a better, less patchworky job than I did.

Layer your ingredients on top of the crust: spinach, broccoli, bacon, cheese, repeat until you've run out of ingredients and are hopefully about a 1/2 inch away from the top of your oven dish. If you're way under or ran out of room, you picked the wrong size of dish, but it's a bit late to change that now. I picked a dish at random and got lucky, just-not-quite reaching the top and using up all my ingredients in exactly three layers of each. :P

Break your eggs into a medium sized mixing bowl and lightly beat them, either with an electric handheld mixer or a whisk.

Add about 3/4 to 1 cup of milk, a pinch of garlic powder and nutmeg, a tiny pinch of either chili powder or cayenne pepper, and about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of mild paprika powder. Beat again, then pour the egg mixture over the ingredients in your oven dish as evenly as possible. Bake quiche for 40 to 50 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the egg mixture has set.

Allow to cool and set for a few minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

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Green Smoothie

Lately, I've occasionally been drinking green smoothies, and finding that I actually enjoy them! A green smoothie is basically any combination of fruits and greens. It can even simply be a smoothie made out of greens (and/or veggies) without any fruits at all, but I'm not quite that hardcore yet. ;) The following is one of the most basic green smoothie recipes, which I believe is sometimes referred to as the "virgin" green smoothie. Try it out -- it's surprisingly tasty, and you'll hardly notice the greens at all.

You'll need the following:

  • one banana
  • about two large handfuls of spinach (fresh, uncooked leaves)
  • 1-3 teaspoons of honey

Start by adding a large handful of spinach to your blender, and add enough water to make sure it will blend down nice and smooth.

Blend, add the other half of the spinach (and some more water, if necessary), and blend again.

Finally, add the banana (peeled and broken into a couple of chunks), as well as honey to taste, and blend again until you have a nice smooth drink. It will look bright green, like this, but it will actually taste of banana and honey, with just a hint of an earthy/spinachy note.

This makes one serving, which contains (assuming you used about 2tsp honey) 2g protein, 29g carbs, 0.3g fat, and 3g fibre, for a total of 133 kcal. Try this as an alternative for your mid-morning latte -- you may find that it gives you the same energy boost without the post-caffeine crash :)

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Fruity breakfast pudding

For the past week or two, I've been regularly switching out my breakfast sandwich for some all-natural, home made pudding. Pudding for breakfast? Yes. Well, technically it's more like a really thick smoothie, I suppose, but still. :P It works best if you make this the night before, so it can set overnight. You'll need the following:

  • about 6 to 8oz fruits of choice
  • about 1/2 cup water, milk, or juice of choice
  • 2 tbsp of chia seeds

Add your fruit to a blender. I'm using about 2.5oz each of raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. I bought these frozen and allowed them to thaw in the fridge over the course of the day, which caused them to release some of their juices. This is no problem at all, just pour those right in there as well.

Next, give them a good blend. At this point in the blending process, you may have more of a chunky, thick paste than an actual smoothie, especially if you're using a $25 blender like I am. :P

So, add some water, milk or fresh fruit juice to help, and blend some more. (I'm using milk.)

Transfer the smoothie mixture to a bowl and stir in your chia seeds. Place this in the fridge overnight. The tiny seeds will soak up quite a bit of the moisture in your mix and release a sticky gel. This makes the smoothie coagulate into a (thin) jelly-pudding like substance.

The finished product, come the next morning. You may have to experiment a bit with the exact amounts of liquid and chia to get a proper pudding consistency, but it should at any rate be thick enough to eat with a spoon rather than drinking.

Here's one from a different morning. This one has raspberries, mango, milk and chia. So, how do these puddings hold up, nutrition-wise? The nutritional value for the first one (3 kinds of berries + milk) comes out to this: 13g protein, 34g carbs, 14.8g fat and 18.8g fibre, for a total of 310 kcal. About half of the fat are omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, and that amount of fibre is over half your recommended daily intake, right there at breakfast. As a consequence, this simple, light pudding will probably keep you full for most of the morning, especially if you drink plenty of water to go with it.

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Caramelised apple upside-down cake

I wanted to make something nice for Easter, and found this recipe by Laura Vitale. It's an apple cake with a twist: you create it upside-down, and the apples are caramelised with homemade caramel. (Note that the title on that linked recipe page is wrong; the video and actual recipe are the correct ones.)

I followed the recipe exactly (well, except for the part where I completely forgot to put in the orange zest as I was making it -- whoops), so there's not much of a point in repeating all the ingredients and instructions over here. Instead, have a bunch of step-by-step pictures!

Melting the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat.

Dark brown sugar added in to make the caramel.

Caramel poured into well-greased oven dish, and apple slices stacked on top.

Dry dough ingredients mixed together.

Butter, sugar and eggs creamed together.

After mixing wet and dry, spread out the resulting dough on top of the apple pieces.

Side view! Caramel at the bottom, dough on top, and you can just barely see some apple slices in between.

All done :D

Look at those pretty caramelised apples :)

Inside view... this cake texture is absolutely perfect :D

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Ice cream cake

Based on this recipe by Laura Vitale.

Up until yesterday, I had never made ice cream myself. I don't own one of those fancy automatic ice cream makers, and stirring a batch of ice cream every so often while it's freezing up and getting hard (to prevent crystallization) seemed like a pretty tough job. Then I saw the recipe linked above, which is stir-free! In fact, it is super simple, using only five ingredients that you can throw together in a couple of minutes, and then you just pop it into the freezer and wait. The trick seems to be that you use whipping cream, and whip that up well so it's nice and light and airy, thus automatically creating an ice cream texture (rather than a rock-solid popsicle) for you. Of course, I had to give that a try!

I used the following:

  • 1 2/3 cup (400ml) whipping cream
  • 4/5 cup (200ml) light cooking cream
  • 1 1/3 cup (200gr) powdered sugar
  • 1 packet vanilla sugar
  • 1 shot (about 1oz/30ml) amaretto liqueur
  • 1 cup crushed (about 4-5 whole) almond cantuccini biscuits

You start by crushing up your cookies. I just used a large knife for this, and sort of chopped them rather than crushing, really. Do whatever works best for you, as long as you get nice small pieces.

Cover a bowl or oven dish or something like that with cling film. Make sure to leave a little bit of it hanging over the sides. Cover the bottom with a layer of cookie crumbs. This will leave about half to 2/3 of the crumbs for use in the ice cream.

Add the whipping cream, light cream and amaretto to a bowl, and mix with an electric mixer until it is as stiff as possible. Mine wouldn't firm up completely (the way whipping cream usually does when it's on its own), probably because there's also cooking cream in there. So I just whipped it up for 3-4 minutes and figured it was good enough. :P

Quickly fold in the powdered sugar, vanilla sugar and the rest of the crushed cookies.

Pour the mixture into the pan, and cover it with the overhanging sides of cling film. Place in the freezer overnight.

Remove from freezer and unwrap. Cut into slices.

It should be relatively soft coming out of the freezer (compared to commercial ice cream), so if you use a sharp, hot knife you should be able to cut it almost immediately.

Drizzle with a little extra amaretto if desired, and serve! As you can see, the structure is almost identical to store-bought ice cream. There was a tiny bit of crystallization going on in the center, but it wasn't bothersome at all.

Assuming you cut this into 10 servings, here's the nutritional info per serving (excluding additional amaretto): 1.5 g protein, 26g carbs, 16 g fat, 0.4 g alcohol; 260 kcal.

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