December 30, 2010

Broccoli Cheddar Quiche

Last August, for our Anniversary, D took me to Williams-Sonoma and let me pick a few items for my anniversary present.

This is what I found.

It was time to make some quiche! (I actually made this in September, just forgot to actually post it)

I baked the crusts,

poured in the egg mixture,

baked again until golden and puffy,

and then I ate four of them. 

There's something about little individual pies, tarts and quiches that makes one feel special and appreciated.

I felt four times more special that day.

By the way, I used the blind baking method for baking the crusts so they would keep their shape. I didn't have any pie baking beads so I just used some old lentils I found in my pantry.

Please excuse my old baking sheet. I like to tell myself that it looks rustic...

If you don't want to use individual pans, or don't have them, the recipe works just fine in a 9 1/2-inch deep dish pie plate.

Broccoli Cheddar Quiche (adapted from

2 cups steamed broccoli
2 large garlic cloves, minced
6 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 half-and-half (I just used whole milk)
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups coarsely grated Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp salt 
black pepper, to taste
1 prepared Pie crust (see below)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
2. Whisk together eggs, half-and-half, and seasonings. Add cheeses and broccoli and stir together.
3. Pour into baked pie crusts and bake until center is just set (40 to 50 minutes for a full pie, maybe around 20 minutes for individual ones. Just watch the quiche and take it out when golden and set). Let it cool at least for 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Double Pie Crust

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening
6 Tbsp icy cold water

1. Mix flour and salt. Cut in shortening. Add COLD water (I put mine in the freezer to chill while I prepare other ingredients) one tablespoon at a time. Mix until dough holds together. Do NOT overmix. Let the dough chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes or more.
2. Roll out and place in desired pans. Be careful not to stretch dough when putting in pans to prevent shrinking. Chill pans in fridge for about 30 minutes.
3. Poke holes in crusts with a fork. Cover with aluminum foil or parchment paper (don't forget to cover edges!) and fill with dried beans, lentils, or ceramic baking beads. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes, until edges are pale golden. Take out of oven and carefully remove beads and foil/paper. Bake uncovered for about 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven, and let cool for about 5 minutes.

I use this pie crust recipe for both savory and sweet pies. You can add seasonings or sugar, depending on the filling. I've only blind baked for the quiche, otherwise I just use the unbaked crust as usual.

This recipe makes around six to eight 4-inch quiches.

December 4, 2010

Pepparkakor - Gingerbread Cookies

These are by far my favorite holiday cookies. The Swedish Pepparkakor are identical with Finnish Piparkakut and taking a bite of one of these takes me back home for a moment. We would use our gingerbread boy, girl, pig and scalloped cookie cutters and decorate the baked cookies with Royal Icing. I also use the same recipe for Gingerbread houses and Christmas trees. I just bake them a little longer so they are sturdy enough for building.

This year I actually decided to bake some of these before Thanksgiving, thus the pictured leaf shapes.

  • Pepparkakkor (from

  • 8 ounces butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dark baking syrup, see note below (or light corn syrup, or molasses)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup orange juice 
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest

  • 1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • 2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Stir in egg, corn syrup, orange juice, and orange zest. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves; stir into the creamed mixture until combined. Chill in the fridge at least a few hours. I generally wait till the next day.
  • 3. Roll dough out to 1/8 inch thickness, and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool cookies on wire racks.

Note: Dark baking syrup is something that I grew up with in Finland. It is used instead of molasses or corn syrup and has much nicer taste than regular American molasses. If you'd like, you can find it at Ikea's Swedish Food Market.

Royal Icing (also from

  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 egg whites, beaten (see note below)
  • Lemon extract, optional

  • In a bowl, sift together confectioners' sugar and cream of tartar. Using electric mixer, beat in 2 beaten egg whites for about 5 minutes or until mixture is thick enough to hold its shape. 

Note: I do not use egg whites for my Royal Icing. I substitute Meringue Powder which has substitution instructions on the container. Meringue powder is basically dried and powdered egg whites and poses no health risks. You can find it on the cake decorating aisle at your local craft store or walmart.

December 3, 2010

Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

This was my dessert choice at Thanksgiving dinner. It was a delicious alternative to the traditional pumpkin pie. I added extra spices as usual!

  • Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake (modified from an Allrecipes recipe)

  • 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg

  • 1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust (recipe follows)

  • 1/2 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed

  • 1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Prepare a waterbath to bake the cheesecake in. 
  • 2. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Blend in eggs one at a time. Then stir in sour cream. Remove 1 1/2 cups of batter and spread into bottom of crust; set aside.
  • 3. Add pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to the remaining batter and stir gently until well blended. Carefully spread over the batter in the crust.
  • 4. Bake in a preheated oven for 1 hr to 1 hr 15 min or until center is almost set. Turn off the oven, prop over door open with a wooden spoon and let cheesecake cool in the oven for another hour. Then refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. Cover with whipped topping before serving.

Graham Cracker Crust (from Allrecipes)

  • 1 1/2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

  • 1. Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar, melted butter or margarine, and cinnamon until well blended . Press mixture into an 9 inch pie plate or springform pan.
  • 2. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 7 minutes. Cool. If recipe calls for unbaked pie shell, just chill for about 1 hour.

Here are great instructions for using waterbath to bake cheesecakes. I found them at Diana's Desserts.

" Water Bath " For Baking Cheesecakes

A "water bath" is a method that will help keep your cheesecake from cracking while baking.
Instructions For Water Bath
First, take heavy aluminum foil, and wrap it around sides and bottom of your springform pan or cheesecake pan with removable bottom. This prevents leakage while baking your cheesecake.
Place your springform pan or cheesecake pan (filled with cheesecake batter and crust) into a larger deep baking pan* that it will fit into easily.
*Note: The larger pan should be at least 2-3 inches in depth.
Place in pre-heated oven. With a kettle filled with very hot water, pour water into the larger pan about halfway up, or approximately 1 1/2 to 2 inches.
Bake cheesecake as directed. When cheesecake is done, remove springform pan or cheesecake pan (if using) from "water bath" in oven. Carefully remove larger pan with water in it from oven. It will be very hot. Discard water when it has cooled.
Remove aluminim foil from sides and bottom of pan after your cheescake has cooled completely in the refrigerator.
When you are ready to release sides of springform pan, or remove cheesecake from a cheesecake pan with removable bottom (if using) and cheescake has cooled in refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight; this is the best time to remove aluminum foil.

December 2, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

To celebrate December 1st I made these puppies. I found them on a blog that I just discovered. They're yummy, delicious and so addicting. I like to eat them when they've chilled a bit in the fridge. Make them, they're so easy and fun!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies (from

3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups pumpkin
1 tsp baking power
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground white pepper

Frosting: I used my cream cheese frosting (using vanilla instead of lemon)

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, beat together the brown sugar and oil. Add the pumpkin and eggs and mix well. Set aside.
3. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cloves, ginger, cinnamon, ground white pepper, salt and nutmeg.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix.
5. Scoop (or pipe) golf ball sized portions of batter onto lined baking sheets. Bake for twelve minutes. Let cool thoroughly before sandwiching together with frosting.

Have we had enough pumpkin and cream cheese recipes yet? I sure don't think so...