Offbeat Home's Cooking Challenge, Day 2's recipes: Quiche, quesadillas, and a spicy curry

April 29 |

Today is Day 2 of Offbeat Home's Cooking Challenge, wherein we see if Offbeat Bride's Managing Editor, a complete non-cook who lives off of frozen pizza and cereal, can go an entire week of preparing her own meals.

Each day, Cat Rocketship (who SWEARS you can afford better food!) will be sharing the recipes that Megan will be preparing — feel free to play along at home! If Megan, a pizza-loving non-cooking cereal-for-dinner web dork can feed herself healthy, home-cooked meals for a week — YOU CAN TOO.


For Monday, I'm remembering to assign you a snack! There aren't any major notes for today, so I'll just nudge you to remember to prep your ingredients at the beginning of each meal. And a lesson it took me a really long time to learn: if something tastes bland, try it with more salt before you give up. It's a miracle mineral — there's a reason people love it so much.

Breakfast: Basic quiche


This is a very simple egg dish, not just limited to breakfast. You can also make this for lunch or dinner (or just eat the leftovers then!)

INGREDIENTS

  • Piecrust (But piecrusts are BITCHES and it's okay to skip this ingredient for now, too)
  • Olive oil!
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves (pieces) of garlic
  • Salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half or cream
  • 8 ounces Gruyere cheese (or parm!), grated
  • 4 cups frozen broc

1.Heat oven to 375 degrees. If you have a crust, put it in a glass pan. If you don't, rub that pan down with a little bit of olive oil.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir occasionally, until soft, about five minutes.
2. Add mixed greens, cook up for about five minutes.
3. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half/cream, a pinch of salt. Stir in onions, greens, and cheese.
4. Pour mixture into pan. Bake about 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
5. Let sit five minutes. Cut and SERVE UP THAT SHIT, WOMAN! Hive five.

Here are some embellishment ideas:

  • Hot sauce!
  • Add more cheese on top — any kind
  • Syrup — but WHY people like syrup on eggs, I don't know

Notes for a newbie quiche cooker
It can be tough to tell when quiche is done. I'm not great at them yet. But if it's in the oven for 30-40 minutes, it is going to be edible and probably even tasty, so don't sweat it too much.

Leftover quiche is a great lunch. Or dinner, or snack — and it's good warm or cold. Be prompt about storing this dish away so it tastes fresh later.


Lunch: Grilled portobello mushroom quesadilla


MMM MORE CHEESE. Eat a carrot or something too, will ya?

This is a recipe for a large lunch for one.

  • 4 corn tortillas
  • Olive oil
  • Portobello mushroom, sliced
  • 1 cup grated (or thinly sliced) cheddar
  • Optional addition: this would be a good place for more of that apple from yesterday

Embellishment ideas:

  • Hot sauce!
  • Ketchup!
  • Bell pepper slices!
  1. Get out your George Foreman grill. I have no idea how to use those things, so this first bit's on you. You could also use a pan — I'd use a cast iron pan dry, heated to medium heat. So do whatever hoodle you do to prep a Foreman.
  2. Prepare the mushroom. If it has a stalk, cut off the dirty bit. Wash the whole thing. Snap off the stalk. Slice the stalk into coins about 1/3 of an inch thick. Lay the mashroom cap gills-down on the cutting board and Slice it too. Put it all in a small bowl.
  3. Ladle a liiittle bit of olive oil on the mushroom. Stir the bowl a bit to coat everything.
  4. Drop mushrooms into pan, sprinkle with some salt, and grill on medium-medium high heat for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally — err on the cooler side with the Foreman, I think. Remove mushrooms.
  5. Seriously, cut yourself up some carrot strips.
  6. Place corn tortilla in pan. Layer on cheese, then mushrooms, then another tortilla. Smush with a spatula — or a Foreman lid. Let cook 1-3 minutes each side in a pan, and until things look melty on the Foreman.
  7. Remove! Slice your 'dilla in half. Give yourself a gold star for lunch time.


Snack!


I think I forgot to give you a snack on Sunday. I'm sure you found something to nosh on :)

We've been a little heavy on cheese today. How about some strawberries? Wash them off, slice off the heads, and serve in a bowl. If you want to experiment, add a dish of sugar to dip them in. I also like to soak cherries in a carbonated drink — it makes them taste sparkly. Seltzer, pop, whatever.


Dinner: Chickpea spinach curry with cucumber-yogurt sauce and rice, with a dark chocolate bar for sweets


This is probably a two-serving recipe. Double or triple as necessary for leftover planning or guest-feeding.

  • olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped ginger: peel or roughly chop the skin from the edges of the plant. Remove any dry ends. If you have trouble chopping the ginger, try going with the grain — vertically — down the root. Sometimes it is woody and difficult to work wit.
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 15.5 ounce can of chickpeas/garbanzos
  • several handfuls spinach, chopped (I had Megan buy fresh greens, but spinach is one item you can easily keep on hand in your freezer)
  • salt!
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cucumber, skinned and diced
  • rice
  1. Prep the rice. If you have a rice cooker, dish up 3/4 a cup of dry rice per person. Rinse rice several times. Load the cooker with water — about as much water as rice. Pinch in a healthy amount of salt (1 teaspoon?). Place lid on top and hit "cook".
  2. If you do not have a rice cooker follow these directions for cooking rice on a stove.
  3. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat for at least 60 seconds. Add onion, garlic, and ginger and cook for six minutes, stirring often.
  4. Add curry and cook for additional minute.
  5. Add chickpeas, spinach, one cup water, 1/2 teaspoon salt to the saucepan. Bring to a simmer (a low-level of bubbling activity) and cook for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. About four minutes in, use your spatula or a fork to mashed up the peas a little. It can be precarious, so don't sweat it too much.
  6. Meanwhile, mix yogurt, cucumber, cilantro, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl with a spoon.
  • When time is up and rice is done, fluff rice and dish onto a plate. Ladle chickpea sauce over the top generously — think of them as two meal items you can eat together.

I'm sorry, I'm kind of weak on desserts. But I never turn down a dark chocolate bar — especially as a palate cleanser after a savory, spicy meal like this.

While Megan will do full cooking reports the following day, you can see photos and follow her Offbeat Home cooking challenge adventures real-time, too: @meganfinley #obhfood

  1. Hello! I am wondering if it is possible to start a thread…. Or a new series??? Or an alter universe??? Where those of us that might have some food savvy can discuss recipes and ideas. I am of the "quasi-homemade" variety, and have never attempted my own spaghetti sauce or pie crust– I understand that this series was not developed for people like me but I would love if there was a way to tweak it. Because I am an uber-demanding pretty pretty princess diva. :)

    2 agree
      • can i be in on the guest-posting business end of explaining how to cook all the things? :D

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  2. Tee hee. Megan just tweeted me after I encouraged her. Now I kind of feel like a rock star. Go Megan!

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    • Haha, yes, me too! Now I have to tell my toaster story as a special Megan treat…

      So: first day of university. I am young and innocent. I have bought a Tesco Value toaster for £5. Before my first day of classes, I get up in plenty of time, and while I'm getting dressed I stick a piece of pita bread in the toaster.

      Five seconds later: black smoke fills my new room! The pita bread is in flames! Actually flames! The plastic toaster is melting! The fire alarm goes off, the entire building is evacuated, and I'm all anyone talks about for the first week. (To the extent that when I introduce myself, people say, "Ooooh – the girl with the toaster, right?")

      It's now a number of years later, and I can cook pretty well. But I will never forget that the first day I was expected to feed myself I actually evacuated a whole building with flames.

      Take home message: Go Megan! You'll get there. :-)

      1 agrees
      • OMG, it was even better than I imagined. I have not damaged any buildings with my attempts… YET. I'm not ruling it out though.

        And thank you guys for your encouragement via Twitter. It was VERY nice to read when I was crying over a bowl of egg juice.

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  3. Wait! Help ! Quiche recipe- mixed greens are mentioned in directions but not ingredients.

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    • Yeah, i was tripped up by that too. I think she meant the broccoli and/or greens in general. Because I ran out of broccoli last night and used spinach greens today instead.

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      • Megan – good job – very creative! Now you're cooking! (I'm sorry – had to do it.)

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  4. If you fancy learning how to make crust, I recommend doing so near the holidays. You can make a bunch of pies, and even if the crusts aren't perfect, no one's going to turn down a GIFT PIE.

    And here's an idea for an easy-peasy dessert (that also uses chocolate!)
    5 Minute Chocolate Cake in a Mug

    1 large (think oversize) coffee mug or cereal bowl (microwaveable)
    1 fork
    4 tablespoons flour
    4 tablespoons sugar
    4 tablespoons cocoa powder
    1 egg
    3 tablespoons milk (or soy milk – I've used both and both work fine)
    3 tablespoons oil (I used veggie oil)
    3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional – but HIGHLY recommended)

    Mix dry ingredients together in the bowl. Add the egg and mix with the fork. Add in milk and oil, mix again. At this point you should have the consistency of cake batter. Add the chocolate chips and stir it around. Microwave at 1000 watts (or on high) for 3 minutes (four if your microwave is weak like mine). The cake may rise over the top of the mug; this is normal. Meanwhile, wash the raw egg off your fork and prepare to use it! Allow to cool for a few minutes and then either tip onto a plate to eat, or toss some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream into the bowl and enjoy that way.

    My husband's reaction: "Oh my God. This is ridiculously good. Youhavetomakeanotherone!!!"

    1 agrees
  5. I love quiche. It's one of those things that seems fancy but is actually super easy to make. Plus, once you learn the basic recipe you can make it with anything you like. I like to add leftover mashed potatoes to mine.

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  6. One good way to tell when a quiche is done is to take the temperature of the middle. The USDA specs for egg dishes is to cook to an internal temp of 160 F. (Also, I started googling "eggs cooked" intending to also type "temp", and auto-suggest filled in "in urine". Eggs cooked in urine. I do not know the recommended temp for that recipe.) :-) As for regular cooked egg dishes, I would cook it to 160 the first time, then see if that's a texture you like. The USDA tends to give pretty conservative temps, so you may like your egg dish cooked less that that.

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    • And I just saw the guidelines about "no backseat cooking advice" — sorry! Good luck with the rest of the week.

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  7. oh man. i kind of don't envy you this day's learning curve – cutting carrots? WAY HARDER THAN IT SOUNDS IF YOU'RE ME.
    also, I'm hoping Cat knows your George Foreman, because if you've got a slanty one rather than a flat one that is *not* going to end well…
    However? totally trying that quiche next week. you just watch me!

    1 agrees
  8. If you want a pie crust without actually making it, Pillsbury makes a decent pre-made refrigerated one. Plop in in the pan and you're done.

    Also, how spicy is that curry? It sounds so so good, but I have a very low tolerance for spicy food.

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    • i would say NO to most pre-made pie crusts, not because they aren't delicious but because they are almost all made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (i.e. DEATH for your arteries) or lard (not vegetarian). whole foods and trader joe's both have tasty pre made crusts that have neither of these things but they are pricier.

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  9. Just wanted to say that I have lit things on fire, set of alarms, and combined flavours that should never ever be combined (dill + eggs = no)… and now I'm pretty good at cooking. A big part of it is finding the kinds of foods you like to cook. For me it's Mexican and baking (I especially love experimental, complex baking). You'll find your niche. Even if there is just one food you enjoy making out of this experiment, follow it through and find similar foods! I still light things on fire though (especially when I make yorkshire pudding).

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    • Forget dill and eggs, try Tarragon and eggs! Even my kids wouldn't eat scrabbled eggs without their tarrgon.

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  10. This is a useful reminder, for those of us who cook easily and comfortably, how freaking foreign everything is if you're not used to it.

    The other day, my non-cook husband and I were making… um, something… and I asked him to add salt to whatever we were making. How much? He asked, innocently. To taste, I told him. Um. He put in four gigantic shakes of kosher salt into our two-person meal. Holy shit.

    Completely not his fault! If I'd been helping him with, I dunno, playing baseball, and he was all "Can you hand me the bat?" and I asked "Which one?" and he said "Oh, whatever," he couldn't be mad when I brought him the wiffle bat, right?

    1 agrees
    • Hahahaha the other day my partner wanted to help cook, I asked him to beat some eggs so he cracked them into the bowl and began hitting the bowl with the whisk. And right now I just got home from spending half the night writing at university to find him waiting for me to explain how to use the rice cooker. He's among the most intelligent people I know. Megan is doing freaking fantastic.

      0 agree

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