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Shaved Apple-Fennel Salad

This past weekend, we took the boys apple-picking. As I’ve mentioned after our berry picking excursions, the boys are highly skilled fruit pickers. The looks of concentration on their faces, as they go about their work, is priceless. And we always end up with far more fruit than we needed.

Such was the case this past weekend. The boys moved through the aisles of apple trees with focused eyes and hands, proudly filling their bags with ripe McIntosh and Cortland apples, until the bags were too heavy to be carried. We brought home at least a peck per picker. In layman’s terms, that’s a boat-load of apples. **Author’s note: The more accurate descriptor of our quantity of apples is a poop-load, but it struck me as unappealing to use the word poop in a blog about food. Oh drats, it seems that I wrote it anyway.

Well, when you’ve got a poop-load of freshly-picked apples sitting around, you need to start thinking creatively. Of course, I could bake more apple crisp, but since I gorged myself with it again last night (after consuming a massive BLT) I think it’s better for my waistline that I refrain from baking any more. Apple pie would, of course, be delicious. But, then I’d face the same self-control problem I’m having with the apple crisp in my fridge. So, thinking on the lighter side, I decided to incorporate some of the fresh, crisp apples into a salad with a bit of thinly shaved fennel and a white balsamic vinaigrette.

Fennel conjures up strong images of Thanksgiving at my Italian Grammy’s house. Thanksgiving at my Grammy’s house is a marathon of eating, which challenges even my expert ability to overeat. It starts with an antipasto platter; layers of rolled meats and cheese, adorned with spicy peppers, marinated mushrooms and artichokes, and black olives, dressed in a spicy, tangy vinaigrette. Following the antipasto, we sit down at the table for fruit salad. Then, the pasta course comes out; typically a lasagna, baked ziti, or stuffed shells with garlic bread. And then, after all of that meat and cheese and fruit and pasta and the occasional stolen dessert cookie; then we sit down for a traditional Thanksgiving meal; turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, creamed onions, green beans, cranberry sauce, and rolls. After which, there is dessert, of course; usually a selection of pies, cookies, cheesecakes, and trifle. It’s quite the feast.

So, where’s the fennel come in? Well, before the feast begins, there are nuts, olives, and fennel. As a child, the presence of this strange, celery-looking, licorice-tasting vegetable alongside the olives always confused me. Even more confusing was that my Italian family members pronounced it in a way which sounded like FUH-nook. But then again, I was also taught to pronounce ricotta like Rrrr-GOAT (don’t forget to roll your r’s) and mozzarella like Mootz-a-REL.

In my mind, fennel equals Thanksgiving at Grammy’s. I’ve never actually used fennel in any of my own recipes, but I was inspired recently by a salad which was featured in my grocery store’s seasonal magazine. Their salad blended fennel with oranges and onions over spinach in a vinaigrette. I’m taking inspiration from the apples in making my own twist on a fennel salad, using a light, crisp white balsamic vinegar in my dressing. If you can’t find white balsamic, you can easily substitute regular balsamic. The tastes are similar. The addition of walnuts and applewood smoked bacon to the salad add a wonderful complement in flavors and a perfect bit of crunch.

Shaved Apple and Fennel Salad


  • 2 Apples
  • 1 Fennel Bulb
  • 6 cups Spinach
  • 1/2 cup Walnuts, chopped
  • 6 Slices Bacon, cooked and crumbled*

For the Dressing

  • 1/4 cup White Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/3 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 tsp Mustard
  • Salt and Pepper

*Use applewood smoked bacon, if available.


Cut the apples in half and remove the core. Cut the fennel bulb in half. Using a mandoline slicer, very thinly slice the apples and fennel bulb. If you don’t have a mandoline, use a knife to slice the apples and fennel as paper-thin as possible. Make the dressing by whisking together all ingredients. Toss the spinach in a small amount of dressing. Divide the spinach onto four plates. Toss the apples and fennel in a small amount of dressing. Place a mound of the dressed apples and fennel on top of the spinach. Top with walnuts and crumbled bacon.

Serves 4


Baked Potato Soup

I have a confession to make. This post isn’t really about potato soup. It’s about bacon. I just wanted bacon, anything with bacon. After a bit of brainstorming, I decided upon baked potato soup with bacon flavor cooked into the soup and crispy bits of bacon sprinkled on top. Served with a side of leftover pepperoni pizza salad, my bacon-topped baked potato soup was pure comfort in a bowl.

Baked Potato Soup


  • 4 large Russet Potatoes
  • Olive Oil and Salt, for rubbing potatoes
  • 1/2 pound Bacon, chopped
  • 1 small Onion, chopped
  • 1 cup Sour Cream
  • 3 cups Milk (skim milk would be fine)
  • 1 tsp Salt (plus more, if desired)
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper (plus more, if desired)
  • 2-3 Scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Thoroughly clean potatoes. Use the tip of a knife to puncture the potatoes a few times on each side. Rub the potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for about an hour, until the potatoes are tender, as tested by inserting a knife into the potato. Cut in half and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cook the chopped bacon until crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon, leaving the rendered bacon grease in the pan. Set the cooked bacon aside for topping the soup. Add the chopped onion to the bacon grease in the pan and cook, over medium-low for about 5-7 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Turn off the heat.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop out the tender potato and discard (or eat) the potato skins. Gently smash the potatoes. Add the sour cream. Use an immersion blender to blend the mixture or transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender to combine. Add the milk and blend. Add more milk, if desired, until the soup reaches your desired consistency. Season with the salt and pepper, to taste.

Over medium/medium-low heat, warm the soup for a few minutes, until it begins to gently bubble. Serve topped with shredded cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon, and chopped scallions.

Serves 4

Schnitzel and Spaetzle, Oh My!

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We’re home. Time to get cooking!

In my last blog entry, I posted a picture of the Cheese Spaetzle which my husband and I enjoyed during one of our delicious Chicago lunches. This led one of my friends to wonder exactly what spaetzle is. Spaetzle, or Spätzle, is a type of egg noodle often found in German cuisine.

I ♥ spaetzle.

I ♥ German cuisine.

So, inspired by my friend’s question and in order to show you what spaetzle is, I decided I’d cook it for the first time. Though I’ve eaten in many times in German restaurants, I’ve never actually made it myself. I wasn’t even quite sure how it was made. Since I was pretty clueless about the spaetzle-making process, I decided to search for a recipe. I landed upon a Tyler Florence recipe, which appealed to me for its simplicity and for the fact that it didn’t call for any special spaetzle-making equipment. If you’ve got a colander or spoon with large holes, you’re ready to make spaetzle.

Large-holed colander sitting atop boiling water

I picked a colander which rested nicely on one of my saucepans. I filled the pan with water just high enough that it didn’t reach the bottom of the colander. This way, I was able to scoop a bit of the spaetzle batter into the colander and use a spatula to push it through into the boiling water. This worked beautifully. The batter dropped through the colander holes into the boiling water below and formed perfect little noodles. Just be sure to get right to work at pushing the batter through before it begins to cook on the bottom of the colander (which is exactly what happened to me while I paused to catch a picture). Tyler Florence’s recipe, found here, worked out perfectly. Excellent flavor and texture. Very easy to make! A definite winner in my book.

Spaetzle Cooking in Butter

Once I’d settled on making the spaetzle, it didn’t take me long to decide on making schnitzel; Jaegerschnitzel, to be exact. Schnitzel is simply meat, typically veal or pork, coated in breadcrumbs and fried. Jaeger translates to Hunter, which refers to the type of brown mushroom sauce which is served over the schnitzel.  Pork Jaegerschnitzel is, without question, one of my favorite German dishes and it makes a perfect accompaniment to the spaetzle.

As far as my Jaegerschnitzel recipe goes, I can’t speak to its German authenticity. Some references refer to Jaeger Sauce as a creamy mushroom sauce. I did not use any type of cream in my recipe. Feel free to add a bit of heavy cream, sour cream, or creme fraiche if it strikes your fancy. I was led by my Jaeger taste buds and authentic or not, my taste buds were quite pleased. Quite pleased indeed.



  • 4 Boneless Pork Chops, about a pound total
  • 1/2 pound Bacon, chopped
  • 2 cups Mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil, plus more if necessary
  • 1/2 cup Flour, for dredging
  • 2 Eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup Bread Crumbs, plus more if necessary
  • 4 Tbsp Butter
  • 4 Tbsp Flour
  • 3 cups Beef Stock or Beef Broth
  • Salt and Pepper

To prepare the pork, cut each pork chop in half through the middle to create two thinner pieces out of each chop. You should end up with 8 thin-cut pork chops. Place the pork chops in a ziploc and pound, with a mallet or heavy flat-bottomed pan, to flatten to about 1/4 inch thick. Season each piece with a bit of salt. Then dredge the pork in the flour, dip in the lightly beaten eggs, and coat in the bread crumbs. Set the breaded chops aside.

In a large pan, over medium heat, cook the bacon until it just begins to get crispy, about 5-7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon, leaving the rendered fat in the pan. Set the bacon aside.

Add the mushrooms to the bacon fat remaining in the pan and cook for 5-7 minutes over medium heat until the mushrooms are tender and lightly browned. Use a slotted spoon to remove the mushrooms and set aside.

Add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to the bacon fat remaining in the pan, so that you have a very thin, even layer of bacon fat/oil. Add the breaded pork cutlets and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, over medium heat, until lightly browned and cooked through. Cook in batches, adding more oil between each batch, if necessary. Set the cooked pork aside.

**If the pan has any burned bits on the bottom, clean the pan before proceeding or use a new pan for the following steps.

Add butter and flour to the pan over medium heat. Whisk to combine. Cook for a minute or two. Then, gradually begin whisking in the beef stock. Bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 5 minutes, whisking frequently. The sauce will thicken. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Add the cooked pork cutlets, mushrooms, bacon, and any juices to the sauce. Gently move the pan to coat the pork in the sauce. Cook for a minute or two to reheat all components. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Serve with warm butter-sautéed spaetzle.

The Hangover Burger

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Thought I was so slick. Went down to the grocery store Friday night and picked up all the things I would need for tonight’s dinner. The supermarket was quiet, peaceful, a virtual oasis of food; unlike on summer weekends, where it transforms into a frenzied circus of activity. But I was ever so clever and got it all taken care of Friday night.

Then, I woke up this morning, not so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed; the result of a small child who decided to start his day at 5:00am. I made the kids their breakfast, tended to the labrosaurus rex, and started the coffee. I had a hankering for some eggs in a hole; the dish my mom used to call Rocky Mountain Breakfast. So I heated a little butter in a pan, removed the centers from my bread, cracked the eggs into the middle, and fried them up. Then I sat down to enjoy my delicious breakfast.

Boy, did it hit the spot! I could have eaten two more, but I’d used the last of the eggs. I sat there, lingering over the last bite and then it struck me. Right smack in the middle of my head. I’d intended to use those eggs for tonight’s dinner. Foiled again by my overwhelming food cravings!! So much for avoiding the supermarket on the weekend.

Tonight’s dinner is an indulgence; a guilty pleasure. You’d better start running in place right now, cause it’s going to take some work to burn off the calories in this one. It might be a good idea to have your blood pressure checked before consuming. It will be worth it though.

Austin Grill, a Maryland based Tex-Mex restaurant has a burger on their menu called The Hangover Burger. I’m not exactly sure whether this burger is intended to be the cure or the cause of the hangover. But, lordy, lordy is this a good one! I ordered it once and dreamed about it forever after. The burger features a beef patty, smothered with chili, bacon, queso, roasted jalapeño peppers, and a fried egg. It’s the egg that really does it for me!

Tonight, we’re having my version of The Hangover Burger. Once, you’ve made the chili, there’s really nothing to it, besides putting the pieces together. Here’s how it’s done…

Austin Grill-Inspired Hangover Burger


  • Burger Patties
  • Hamburger Buns or Hard Rolls
  • Bacon
  • Chili Con Queso
  • Chili*
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Jalapeño Pepper
  • Salt and Pepper

*For my easy recipe for Spicy Beef Chili, click here.


Cut the jalapeño in half. Remove the seeds and ribs. Roast in a 300 degree oven for about 45 minutes, until softened. When cool enough to handle, cut into small pieces. Set aside. Cook the bacon and place a few slices on each bun. Season the burgers with salt and pepper. Grill or broil the burgers to your preferred doneness. While the burger is cooking, warm the chili and queso. Place the cooked burgers on top of the bacon. Top with a spoonful of chili and a spoonful of warm chili con queso. Sprinkle with the roasted jalapeño peppers. Top with a freshly fried egg.

Serve with a side of steamed broccoli, to make yourself feel better about eating the burger.

I foresee many salads in my future.

Brunch – It’s the meal that comes with a Mimosa

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There’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And then there’s BRUNCH, the meal that comes with a Mimosa. Sign me up for that one! I do love a good, hearty brunch! Aside from enjoying my darling breakfast at lunch time, brunch usually means good times with good friends and family.

Yesterday, we hosted our first Brunch to BBQ party. And it was a fantastic success, though we never actually fired up the grill. We started with a wonderful brunch and several Mimosas. Then, we lied around on the living room floor until we felt like we could move again, watched a bit of the World Cup and then headed outside for a few games of Polish Horseshoes. My sister whipped up a batch of margaritas and the festivities continued. Later in the day, we enjoyed dinner and then relaxed in the backyard until it was time to sleep. A great day!

Here are a few details on the brunch…

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict



Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Toast English muffins in a toaster. Place on a baking sheet in the oven to keep warm while you assemble the other components. In a skillet over medium high heat, cook each slice of Canadian Bacon for a minute or two on each side, until it is hot and slightly browned. Place one slice on each English muffin in the oven to keep warm. Poach the eggs, according to the procedure shown here. Hold the eggs in the cold water bath while you prepare the hollandaise sauce (Recipe here). Prepare the hollandaise sauce and keep it warm above a bowl of warm water. Reheat the eggs by gently placing them in a pot of barely simmering water for about a minute. Remove the eggs and dry on a paper towel. Place one egg on each English Muffin. Top with a spoonful of hollandaise sauce. Serve immediately.  Serves 4

*As a little variation, use smoked salmon in place of the Canadian Bacon. Just don’t cook the salmon or put it in the oven!

Salmon Eggs Benedict

Brunchy Beverages

Brunch and Mimosas go hand in hand. Bellinis are another brunchilicious option. Both Mimosas and Bellinis are champagne cocktails. Mimosas mix orange juice with champagne while Bellinis traditionally combine champagne with peach nectar. About 2 ounces of fruit to 4 ounces of champagne should do the trick. Substitute other fruit nectars to make your own variation. For a non-alcoholic option, use ginger ale or sparking cider instead of champagne.

Mango Bellini

Homemade Cream Cheese with Bagels

Make your own flavored cream cheese by softening cream cheese and adding your own flavors. For today’s brunch, I made scallion cream cheese by mixing in a bunch of chopped green onions and an olive cream cheese using a mix of chopped olives. Sliced Spanish olives with pimento would work great too! After you stir in your flavoring, put the cream cheese back in the refrigerator to cool before serving. A few other ideas for homemade cream cheese flavors: Smoked Salmon, Strawberry, Veggie, Blueberry, Honey-Nut, Roasted Garlic, Sun-dried Tomato, Maple, Cinnamon Apple, Cherry Almond, Spicy Pepper.

Homemade Cream Cheese

Breakfast Pizza

Breakfast Pizza

My sister treated us to her breakfast pizza, which as she explains, is based off of a breakfast pizza she saw offered at a Hess gas station. Imagine my surprise! Basing a dish off of something you saw at a gas station?? I suppose food inspiration can come from anywhere! I may base my next Beef Wellington off of Hess’ food offerings. All kidding aside, this pizza is delicious. It’s easy to put together and makes a great dish for guests.


  • 1 Prepared Pizza Crust (my sister uses a whole wheat crust)
  • 1/2 pound Bacon
  • 1 1/4 cup Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Milk
  • 1/4 cup Cheddar, shredded
  • Salt and Pepper


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a skillet, cook bacon until crispy. Allow bacon to drain. Then, crumble it into small pieces. Reserve bacon grease. Whisk the eggs together with the milk. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and then cook in a pan until scrambled. Set aside. Brush the pizza crust with a bit of the bacon grease. Sprinkle about a cup of the mozzarella cheese over the crust. Top with the scrambled eggs and bacon. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and the cheddar cheese on top. Season with a bit of pepper. Bake for about 8-10 minutes.

Breakfast Casserole

Sarah's Breakfast Casserole

A good friend brought along a breakfast casserole, a delicious mix of eggs, cheese, bread, and sausage. She explained that ever since she enjoyed this dish at a friend’s house, it’s been her go-to breakfast recipe. It’s a great all-in-one breakfast dish that’s perfect for a crowd. My mother in law makes a similar casserole, but she uses peppers and onions too. They’re both delicious. I’ll have to get the recipes to share with you soon!

Part 1 of our day was perfect!  The food, the drinks, and the company were all amazing.

Round 1 Results: Food - 0 The Gourmand Mom - 1

To be continued…

Blue Cows in a Blanket

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When my husband and I got married, we decided to have an all hors d’oeuvres cocktail reception. When we shared this idea with my parents, my dad made a joke about the quantity of pigs in a blanket that the caterers would be dealing with. Though we were thinking more along the lines of Smoked Duck on Pecan Crackers with Red Currant Chutney, Saga Bleu Polenta Rounds with Beef Tenderloin, and Seared Sea Scallops on a Salpicon of Lump Crabmeat and Sweet Yellow Corn with Poblano Pepper Aioli, the idea of a Pigs in a Blanket themed reception made us giggle. We even arranged for the caterer to present my father with his very own tray of pigs in a blanket just prior to the ceremony. I think the bill from the caterer listed them as ‘Cocktail Franks en Croute’. Fancy! Whatever you call them, the tray was empty in a blink.

Blue Cows in a Blanket is my beefy little twist on Pigs in a Blanket. It’s basically a bacon blue cheese burger, wrapped in puff pastry and baked until golden brown. I came up with the idea awhile back, while trying to devise a way to fit bacon blue cheese burgers into a cocktail party menu. You can make the burgers larger or smaller, depending on your needs. And, the best part is that they can be almost fully prepared ahead of time.  Just wrap the cooked burgers in the pastry and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake and serve!

Blue Cows in a Blanket work well as an hors d’ oeuvre or as a main course alternative to a traditional burger. Tonight, we enjoyed them as a main course with a Wedge Salad on the side, playing off the blue cheese and bacon in the burger.

Blue Cows in a Blanket


  • 1 pound Ground Beef
  • 1/2 cup Bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup Bleu Cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 package (2 sheets) Puff Pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Gently combine ground beef, bacon, cheese, and salt with hands, just enough to evenly distribute the bacon, cheese, and salt. Form the mixture into about 18 small meatball-sized balls.  Gently flatten into small patties. Place on a baking sheet.  Bake for about 8-10 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Keep the oven at 400 degrees.

Meanwhile, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the thawed puff pastry sheets into squares that measure approximately 12 x 12 inches. Use a pizza cutter to cut each sheet into 9 equal-sized squares. You should have 18 squares that measure approximately 4 x 4 inch each. (Don’t worry if they aren’t exactly square or equal-sized. The dough will stretch when you wrap the burgers.)

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place one cooled patty in the center of each square. Wrap the pastry around the patty and press the dough together on the bottom. Place each wrapped patty on the baking sheet, seam side down. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and brush each pastry with the beaten egg. Return to oven and cook for 10 more minutes. Serve immediately.

For the Wedge Salad: Cut a head of iceberg lettuce into 4-6 wedges. Top with chopped tomatoes and crumbled bacon.  Drizzle with blue cheese dressing.

Breakfast for Dinner – Chocolate Chip Bacon Pancakes

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They say that breakfast is the most important meal. I say that it’s also the yummiest. Given the choice, I’d eat breakfast all day long every day. I could just kiss the genius who invented brunch, giving the world a valid excuse for eating breakfast at lunchtime (and drinking champagne along with it). And, some times it just feels right to have breakfast for dinner. As kids, some of our favorite nights were the ones when our mom cooked up Chocolate Chip Coconut Pancakes for dinner. We seriously felt like we’d hit the dinner jackpot.

Over here, we find plenty of excuses to host Sunday brunch, be we don’t have dinner for breakfast nearly as often as I’d like. (My hubby’s just not as enthusiastic about it as I am.) But, tonight, there’s a frozen pizza in the freezer for Mr. Anti-breakfast-for-dinner and I’m making Chocolate Chip Bacon Pancakes for myself and the kids! (Sorry, hubby.) And, yes, I said Chocolate Chip Bacon Pancakes. It’s like eating a chocolate covered pretzel, only meatier. Clearly, this isn’t the kind of dinner you’d make often, but it’s a fun treat every once in a while. Tonight feels like that kind of night.

The following recipe is a basic buttermilk pancake recipe.  You can substitute the chocolate and bacon with just about anything that strikes your fancy. So, if the idea of chocolate and bacon, married in perfect pancake harmony, doesn’t float your boat, try cherries with a bit of vanilla, or bananas and pecans, or blueberries.

Chocolate Chip Bacon Pancakes

Buttermilk Pancakes with Chocolate Chips and Bacon


  • 2 cups of Flour
  • 2 cups of Buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar
  • 2 Tbps of Butter, melted
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 cup Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 cup Bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled


In a bowl, combine the buttermilk with the melted butter and beaten eggs. Slowly blend in the dry ingredients and stir until large lumps disappear. Stir in bacon and chocolate chips (or your filling of choice). Preheat a skillet or griddle over medium heat. Grease with a little butter. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake and cook until small bubbles start to appear on the top and the edges are cooked. Flip and cook for a couple more minutes, until cooked through. **As you complete each batch, you can place the pancakes in a 200 degrees oven, to keep warm until all the batter has been cooked.

Quiche Lorraine

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I’ve got a fridge full of leftover cheese that I don’t want to waste, including a large tub of shredded gruyere.  One of my favorite ways to use gruyere is in Quiche Lorraine. Doesn’t get much better than gruyere and bacon in a pie crust! I like to add sauteed onions, but if you’re not an onion fan, leave them out. Quiche makes a delicious breakfast, lunch, or dinner meal! It reheats nicely in the oven, making it a convenient dish to prepare ahead of time.

Today’s schedule does not include time for making a pie crust, so I’ll be using a frozen pastry shell. But, if you’re feeling sassy, go ahead and whip up your own buttery pie crust for this recipe!

Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine


  • 1 pie crust, homemade or frozen
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 8 oz. bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 2 tablespoons chives, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. If using a frozen pie crust, allow it to thaw in the fridge for 20-30 minutes before using. Line pie crust with a piece of foil.  Fill with dry beans.  Bake in oven for 15 minutes.  Remove foil and beans.  Return to oven for another 5 minutes. (You can save the dried beans to reuse as pie weights.)

In a saute pan, melt 1 tablespoon butter.  Saute the chopped bacon over medium heat until it is cooked, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon from the pan and place it over a double layer of paper towels to remove the excess grease. Sprinkle the bacon into the pie shell. Add onions to the bacon grease remaining in the pan.  Cook onions for about 5 minutes until they are soft and slightly caramelized. Drain over a paper towel. Sprinkle the onions over the bacon.  Distribute the gruyere evenly over the bacon and onions.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, and seasonings.  Pour over the bacon, onions, and cheese, being careful not to overfill.

Place the pie shell on a baking sheet. Bake on the bottom rack for 35-45 minutes, until the filling has set in the middle. (You’ll know because it won’t wiggle anymore.)

Allow it to cool slightly before serving.  Serve with a side of spring greens and balsamic vinaigrette.

Quiche will keep well in the fridge for a couple days.  You can reheat it in a 200 degree oven until warm.

New York Bacon, Egg, and Cheese on a Bagel

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I was born and raised on Long Island, New York. With countless aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, parents, and grandparents still residing on the island, there are many occasions for visits home. And, one thing makes every trip complete: Bacon, Egg, and Cheese on a New York bagel.

Here’s the catch though.  The sandwich must be prepared at the bagel shop.  Many an eager host has offered to make us bacon, egg, and cheese bagel sandwiches. I’ve got eggs, bacon, and cheese in the fridge, they say.  Just pick up the bagels and I’ll make you a sandwich. Our hearts pound a little faster and we feel flushed. How can we put this politely, without offending our gracious host? “No, no…it’s ok, we’ll just pick up the sandwiches. Thanks though!” What?  You don’t like my bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches?? Oh no. This isn’t going well.  We’ve hurt their feelings. How do we explain this? It’s just that, well, it’s just… Oh, I don’t know!  But, it’s how it has to be.

I think there’s a certain magic that happens when the egg hits the hot bagel shop griddle. Perhaps it’s the aroma of freshly baked bagels in the air? It might even have something to do with the white paper it’s so perfectly wrapped in.

Oh, and the bagels!! I hesitate to say only New York bagels, because it is not a statewide phenomenon. By New York bagels, I refer to downstate, New York City and Long Island bagels. Dense, chewy New York bagels. As a resident of Central New York, I can attest to the difference. Most bagels, outside of the downstate New York area, are more like rolls in a bagel disguise. They look like bagels, smell like bagels, and even feel like a bagel when your lips first touch the glossy exterior.  But inside, it’s just a piece of bread. So, so sad. Oddly enough, the one place that’s come closest to a New York style bagel was a small bagel shop we visited in Clearwater, Florida. Doughy and delicious bagels, with just the right amount of resistance to the bite. But, they did not make bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches. So, so sad.

So, now we’re home.  Bag of Long Island bagels in hand. Happy that we have reason to return in the near future!

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