Posts tagged ‘lunch’

Sausage, Sun-dried Tomato, and Spinach Quiche

If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good quiche.

They’re so versatile and easy, yet delicious. Good for breakfast, good for lunch, good for dinner. A good quiche is hard to beat.

This is similar to a frittata I made a few weeks ago, but with sun-dried tomatoes instead of roasted peppers, and in quiche form.

I usually make my own pie crusts, but I’ve been buying pre-made crusts lately. Whole Foods has some really good ground spelt and whole wheat pie crusts in their frozen foods section. I especially like the ground spelt ones.

Feel free to use your favorite pie crust recipe for this quiche or buy a pre-made crust. It’s up to you. Do whatever floats your boat. We’re flexible around here.

One thing. While you can make quiche using all milk, it’s really good if you use half milk and half cream. The cream gives it a bit of lusciousness and depth of flavor that you don’t quite get with just milk. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still great with just milk, but if you’re looking to impress, add some cream.


Sausage, Sun-dried Tomato, and Spinach Quiche

(makes 1 quiche)

  • 1 pie crust
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 – 1/2 lb. Italian sausage (ground or links cut into slices; pork or turkey)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes, diced
  • 2 c. fresh spinach
  • 1 c. shredded cheese
  • 4 – 5 large eggs
  • 1 c. whole milk (or 1/2 c. milk and 1/2 c. heavy cream)
  • salt and pepper
  1. Pre-heat oven to 360° F.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add sausage and cook until almost completely browned.
  3. Add onion and garlic, and continue cooking for 2 – 3 minutes. Add spinach and cook until spinach wilts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, and cream (if using) together. Add a dash of salt and pepper.
  5. Place prepared pie crust on a baking sheet. In the crust layer half the cheese, the meat and vegetable mixture, and the rest of the cheese. Pour the egg mixture over everything.
  6. Bake, uncovered, 45 minutes, or until top of quiche is golden brown and the egg filling doesn’t jiggle when gently shaken.


August 21, 2012 at 10:37 am Leave a comment

Roasted Pepper, Italian Sausage, and Spinach Frittata

Did everyone have a good Independence Day?

We had a fun, although quiet day here. In the morning, we visited the San Jacinto Memorial. I didn’t know what the monument would look like, and I was surprised to see just how big it was. It’s a huge column (it lacks the pointy, pyramid-like top of an obelisk), and stands at 567 feet tall. That’s slightly taller than the Washington Monument in D.C. That’s pretty big, right? Inside, there was a small museum with the history of the area, important figures in Texas history, and of course the battle of San Jacinto.

I forgot my camera (naturally), so here are some pics from my phone.
I couldn’t get the entire monument in the picture, but here’s (most) of it.


Hisa standing at the base of the monument.

After leaving there, we visited the nearby Battleship Texas, built in the early 1900s. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get on the boat as it was closed for repairs, but it was still really cool to see. It had huge turrets on it. I can only imagine how loud it must of been when those things were firing.

I wonder if they had good earplugs back in the early 1900s?

In the afternoon, we went to the movies to see The Avengers (finally!). I’d been wanting to see this movie since it came out, so I was happy to finally get to see it before it left theaters. I was surprised to see how packed the theater was though! The movie has been out for so long, I thought the theater would be nearly empty, but it was packed! I guess that’s why it’s still in theaters… Anyway, I thought it was a really good movie. I love the smart-A-ness of Iron Man, but then I have a special place in my heart for smart-A’s, hehe. I blame my parents. 🙂

In the evening, we had hot dogs, coleslaw, and chips for dinner, with homemade vanilla ice cream and a peach crisp for dessert. My family has a tradition of making homemade ice cream on the fourth of July. My mom would always make some every fourth of July, usually a different flavor each year. This was my first time to make homemade ice cream (thanks for the ice cream maker, Mom!), so I went with a simple vanilla ice cream, but oh, it was so good. Happily, we have quite a bit left over (yay~).


I love egg dishes. They’re so simple, good anytime of the day, and you can basically put whatever you want in them. They’re also cheap to make! Like strata and quiche, frittatas are a great, easy egg dish to make, and take less time to make than strata and quiche, as you just cook it on the stove for a little bit, then pop it under the broiler for a few minutes to finish cooking.

As it will be going in the oven under the broiler, you’ll be wanting to use an oven-proof skillet to make this. A cast iron skillet is great for this, but any oven-proof skillet will do.

For this frittata, I added roasted red peppers, Italian turkey sausage, and spinach. But I’m sure you didn’t know that, what with the title of this post and all. Oh, and cheese. Don’t forget the cheese! Never forget the cheese!

Goes well with tossed salad and homemade bread. 🙂

Roasted Pepper, Italian Sausage, and Spinach Frittata

(serves 6)

  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Italian turkey sausage links, sliced (ground sausage is fine, as is pork sausage)
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 2 – 3 roasted red peppers, diced
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 c. fresh spinach, chopped
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 c. milk, half and half, or cream
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 c. shredded cheese
  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Add butter to a cast-iron skillet (or any oven-proof skillet) placed over med-high heat. Once melted, add the sausage, and cook until browned. Reduce heat to medium.
  3. Add the onion, red pepper, and garlic, and cook until onion turns translucent, 3 -4 minutes. Add the spinach, and cook until it wilts. Spread the meat and vegetables evenly around the skillet.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and a dash of salt and pepper. Pour evenly over the mixture in the skillet. Push the egg mixture around with a spatula or wooden spoon for about 30 seconds, then let it start to set.
  5. Once the sides are set, but the center is still runny, sprinkle the cheese over the top. Place in oven, under the broiler until the egg mixture is set and the top is browned. Remove from oven, cut into slices, and serve.

July 6, 2012 at 8:40 am 2 comments

Asparagus and Ham Strata

A new recipe! Yay!

Sorry it’s taken me so long to get around to posting one! But what with moving…and then moving again… I’ve barely had time to even think about cooking anything new or post about it.

This is a dish I made several weeks ago and didn’t get the chance to post about it before the moving frenzy began.

If you’ve never had a strata, it’s a layered casserole consisting of bread, eggs, and cheese, usually with the addition of some kind of meat and/or vegetable. It’s quite similar to a quiche or frittata, except that it doesn’t have a pie crust, like quiche, and instead it has torn up pieces of bread in it.

It’s a really easy, but delicious dish, and honestly, it’s good anytime of the day. Even those times in the middle of the night when  you wake up ravenous, and you raid the kitchen thinking know one will ever know….but they know….they so know.

Feel free to substitute any vegetable of your choice for the asparagus. Broccoli, zucchini, spinach, and summer squash would all be great alternatives.
You can also add any kind of meat you want instead of the ham, or leave it out altogether.

Asparagus and Ham Strata

(serves 6)

  • 10 baguette slices (or 5 – 6 regular slices of bread), torn up
  • 1 lb fresh asparagus, cut into 1 1/2 in. pieces
  • 1 c. cubed ham
  • 1 c. grated cheese
  • 1 1/2 c. milk
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • black pepper
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream (optional)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 325° F.
  2. Bring a large pot of boiling water to a boil. Cook asparagus for 3 – 4 minutes, or until just tender. Drain and set aside.
  3. Grease a 3 qt. rectangle casserole dish. Spread half the torn up bread pieces in the bottom. Top with ham, asparagus, and cheese. Top with the remaining bread pieces.
  4. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, yogurt, mustard, onion powder, a dash of pepper (and salt if not using ham), and the cream. Pour evenly over the mixture in the casserole dish.
  5. Bake, uncovered, for about 60 minutes, or until egg is completely cooked and the top is golden brown. Let set 10 minutes before serving.

Mmmm, yummeh in my tummeh~

June 27, 2012 at 11:36 am Leave a comment

Salad Bar Dinner

I’m happy to report that I’m feeling much less tired today. Hisa and I even went swimming this morning, although it was sooo cold out. We’ve been having a pretty mild winter this year so far, so it was a bit of a shock to have freezing cold temperatures when we went to the pool, and even when we came back (I thought my wet hair was going to freeze).

I’ve discovered, however, that it’s quite refreshing to go swimming early in the morning! I always thought I couldn’t never handle any form of exercise early in the morning before breakfast, but I’m getting quite used to it now. Hisa and I have been going to swim in the mornings about twice a week the past couple weeks, and I have to say, I’m quite proud of myself for it! I’ve exercise regularly in the late morning, afternoon, and evening before (all times of day have their pros and cons), but this is the first time I’ve been able to regularly exercise at the crack of dawn. As someone who thinks waking up before dawn is a form of cruel and unusual punishment, I have to say that if I can do it, I really think anyone can. 🙂

The other night for dinner, I decided to do something different, and laid out our own little salad bar. I thought of all the toppings I thought my family would like, prepared two different salad dressings, and laid everything out. It was a simple dinner, but healthy and quite fun really.
You could also serve bread sticks or focaccia bread with this. Or maybe some cookies for dessert. Mmmm, cookies…

I made a simple balsamic vinaigrette dressing and my honey mustard dressing made with greek yogurt, but use whatever dressings you like.

Here’s the toppings I used for our salad bar to give you some ideas:

  • organic spring lettuce mix
  • baby spinach
  • stir-fried chicken pieces (sliced grilled, fried, and baked chicken are great too)
  • broccoli florets
  • avocado
  • garbanzo beans
  • tomatoes
  • cubed tofu
  • matchstick carrots
  • olives
  • feta cheese
  • shredded mozzarella cheese
  • boiled eggs
  • walnuts
  • dried cranberries
  • mushrooms
  • blanched snow peas

Here are some more toppings ideas:

  • sliced apple/pear
  • Mandarin orange pieces
  • strawberries
  • crumbled goat/Gorgonzola cheese
  • slivered almonds
  • cooked quinoa
  • cooked salmon/tuna
  • sliced onion
  • bell peppers
  • cucumber

Even though it’s super simple to simply set things out, when you have a wide variety of toppings, it somehow seems a little fancy. Especially if you have all the toppings in matching bowls. I think this would be a fun lunch or light dinner for when you have guests over.

Mmmm, I love me some salad!

January 19, 2012 at 1:38 am Leave a comment

A Belated Wedding Party with Family

Hisa and I had a great time over the weekend at my in-laws’ place. The only bad thing that happened was I accidentally left my pillow at their house when we left. I didn’t realize I’d forgotten it until we got home, and as my in-laws live a two and a half hour drive away, we couldn’t exactly go back and get it. It’s my nice big fluffy pillow that I find it hard to sleep without… *sniff* Now I only have my old, little, lumpy pillow that isn’t very comfortable. *sigh* But such is life. I shall try and endure and be strong until visit them again, and I can get my pillow back.

The reason we visited my in-laws this weekend was we had a wedding party lunch with my husband’s relatives to celebrate our wedding that took place in Hawaii a year and a half ago. Only our immediate families attended the wedding, so they wanted to have a fancy lunch to celebrate with all the relatives that couldn’t come to Hawaii.

And boy, was it ever fancy!

Hisa and I had absolutely nothing to do with the planning of this. We had no idea where it was going to be, how fancy it was going to be, who was coming, anything. The women of my husband’s family took care of everything. They sent out invitations, reserved a private room in the restaurant of a super fancy hotel in the mountains, prepared gifts for all the relatives attending, etc. All Hisa and I had to do was dress nicely (one-piece dress for me, suit and tie for him) and show up. It was great!

As no-one had ever been to the hotel (except my mother-in-law), and it was way up in the mountains and hard to find, my in-laws rented a mini bus to take everyone to the restaurant. Plus, if everyone had driven separately, only half the people in attendance would have been able to drink (the legal blood-alcohol level in Japan is 0.00%, so you can’t have even one sip of alcohol and legally drive here), so by renting a mini bus for everyone to ride in, everyone was able to drink. Brilliant.

My father-in-law made a speech welcoming everyone there, and then Hisa and I both had to make a brief speech on the spot (mine was extremely brief), then Hisa’s uncle made a toast, and we could all sit down and relax and have fun.

Hisa making his speech.

Me (attempting) to make a speech. I switched from Japanese to English half-way through, and they made Hisa translate the rest of it, hehe. Sorry Honey! 😛

Hisa’s uncle making a toast.

The view from one side of the room.

And the view from the other side of the room.

Hisa having a toast with his brother, and me posing over his arm.

In our wedding photos, there’s a picture of me in my wedding dress, and both of my brother posing on either side of me with our heads together. My husband’s sister has always thought it’s a really cute picture, so her two brothers decided to pose for a picture in the same way (much to the resistance of said sister). At this point during the lunch, they ambushed her and posed for a picture while she was squealing, “noooooooo!” the whole time. It was pretty funny. From left to right: my husband, his younger sister, and his older brother.

Everything about the lunch was wonderful. They had an awesome drink menu. There was everything you could want. As for Hisa and I, we had sparkling wine, fine beer, white wine, red wine, dessert wine, and coffee (in that order), and it was all so good!

But the food! Oh, the food! It was delicious! It was beautiful! It was amazing! I kept a copy of the menu, so the descriptions are straight from the menu.

First course: Chilled bouillabaisse jelly with Takeda-saffron flavor kitchen garden herbs and crudité with lavender milk ice cream

Second course: Conger eel, kamo-eggplant and paprika frits with ginger balsamic sauce, half-boiled Niki eggs, and black rice and soy bean risotto cake

Fish course: Pan-fried daily catch fish with zucchini and green asparagus, salmon roe, tomatoes, capers, and a rosemary flavored vermouth sauce

Meat course: Roasted Hokkaido veal fillet with Rossini style mushroom sauce, mashed potatoes, and colorful vegetables from Nasu-height

Dessert: “Autumn sweets ensemble”  Both Hisa and I had “Happy Wedding” written on our dessert plates in chocolate.

Everything was so wonderful. I think it was some of the best food I’ve ever had. The company, of course, was also wonderful. Besides my husband’s immediate family, there was an abundance of aunts, uncles, and cousins present.

After the meal was over, we all piled back onto the bus and headed home. When we got back to Hisa’s parents’ house, we took some last pictures before everyone left.

From left to right: Hisa’s cousin, Hisa’s sister, me, Hisa, our adorable niece, her mother (our sister-in-law), and another of Hisa’s cousins

Everyone was exhausted the rest of the day from all the merry making, and no one was really hungry for dinner, but it was a wonderful party, with wonderful food and drink, and wonderful company.

September 12, 2011 at 5:56 pm Leave a comment

Sausage, Egg, & Cheese Bread

The announced on the news this morning that the rainy season has officially been declared over in Okinawa, 15 days earlier than normal. I’m guessing that that means it will also end early here in Kanto (Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures) as well, probably around 4th week of June or so.

While the rainy season ending early isn’t bad news in itself (After four years in Japan, I still can’t get used to so much rain…), it makes me nervous about this summer. For those who don’t know, last summer in Japan had record high temperatures, combined with the infamously high humidity in Japan in the summer, people were dropping like flies. Hundreds of people died in the Tokyo area alone. As schools in Japan don’t have air conditioning, a lot of kids (actually people everywhere) suffered from heat stroke.

In our apartment we didn’t have air conditioning, so it was brutal. I would go to the (well air-conditioned) library every morning when it opened at 9:30am, and stay there until about 5 or 6pm. At night, I would sleep with 2 frozen gel packs, one next to my back, the other clutched to my chest, and I still slept badly.

Eventually one Saturday in mid-August, I had a melt-down, and simply burst into tears and cried hysterically (much to the surprise of my husband), going on about how I couldn’t stand the heat anymore. My husband tried to console and told me that, OK, we would buy an air conditioner. Small story short, it was a highly traumatic summer that I hope to never repeat, ever. EVER!

Fortunately, this summer we have our lovely air conditioner, however, Japanese air conditioners only cool one room. Our living room and bedroom connect, so we cool those two rooms. The rest of the apartment, the kitchen, bathroom, etc., are not cooled, and thus, still super hot. STILL! It’s so much better just having those two rooms cooled rather than suffering in hot agony! So I’m not complaining! I am, however, wondering if since the rainy season will most likely end early, if that means we’ll have a longer than normal summer.

They’re saying this summer won’t be as hot as last summer, but it might still be hotter than usual. That’s meteorologist speak for “We don’t know”. I’ll just wait and see what comes, but I’m crossing my fingers for either a shorter than normal summer or a cooler than normal summer. Or both! Wouldn’t that be nice? We’ll see what happens. Right now though, I’m just going to enjoy the pleasantly warm weather we’re having today.

*        *        *

Last night for dinner I made bread stuffed with ground sausage, scrambled eggs, and cheese.

When my two brothers and I were kids, my mom would sometimes make this for breakfast. We all loved it. I haven’t had it in years, and was craving it recently, so I decided to make my own. I had some frozen bread dough in the freezer from the last time I made rolls, so I didn’t even have to make bread dough! (Note: having bread dough/pizza dough in the freezer for whenever you need it will make your life sooo much easier. So next time you make bread, make double and freeze half! You’ll be glad you did! Just don’t forget about it in the freezer.)

You can use pretty much any bread dough you want for this. Use whatever you have on hand. Also, I rolled out my dough into a rectangle, covered it with the fillings, and then rolled it up like a stromboli. The dough I was using was more delicate than say pizza dough. It ripped a bunch, and the fillings were oozing out of various spots by the time I got it on the pan. After I baked it though, it both looked and tasted delicious. My point is, the filling doesn’t have to be perfectly sealed within the dough. If it looks like a mess, just tell yourself that it’s rustic. It’ll look great after baking and taste even better. Don’t stress.

This is super easy to make, delicious, and makes a great meal any time of the day. Enjoy!

Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of this both when I took this out of the oven, and when we had dinner, so this is from breakfast this morning, hehe.

Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Bread (serves 3 – 4)

  • 1 batch of bread dough (or pizza dough) that’s finished first rise
  • 3/4 – 1 lb. ground sausage meat (I used my homemade turkey sausage)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 – 2 c. shredded cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C).
  2. Add sausage meat to a skillet over medium heat and cook until sausage is crumbly.
  3. In a bowl, beat four eggs and milk together. Pour into pan with sausage, and cook while stirring, until eggs are done. Turn off heat. If your eggs release a lot of liquid, use some paper towels to dry up the excess liquid.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll our your dough into a large rectangle. Spread shredded cheese evenly on dough, and then cover evenly with the sausage egg mixture.
  5. Roll up dough like a jelly roll, sealing the ends when finished. Place on a foil-lined and greased baking sheet, and bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

June 10, 2011 at 11:41 am 2 comments

Ratatouille, a dish for all veggies (unless you’re Julia Child or a talking mouse)

My closet smells like syrup.

I’ve thought this ever since we moved into our current apartment, over two years ago.

Hisa swears he can’t smell it though. It’s just me. And we keep our closet open all the time, so it’s not like our closet isn’t being aired out all the time.

Not that I’m complaining, because who doesn’t like the smell of syrup, right? Syrup reminds me of pancakes, and pancakes make me feel all warm and happy inside. Almost every time I go to my closet to get something I end up thinking, “Mmmm, pancakes…”.

That would make a great air freshener don’t you think? If you had a syrup air freshener in your closet, you could feel warm and happy every time you went to your closet like me! And if you were really lucky, it would even make your clothes smell like syrup, so all day the people around you would end up feeling warm and happy (Either that or they would randomly start licking your clothes and nibbling on you *cough*)! I smell a business franchise here…

I think perhaps I shall never solve the mystery of why my closet smells like syrup, and why I’m the only one that can smell it, but at least in provides incentive to make pancakes for breakfast every weekend.

Mmmmm, pancakes…

*        *        *

I don’t recall ever having ratatouille before until my husband made it for dinner a couple of years ago. Since then I’ve been hooked. I love the combination of vegetables and the burst of flavor you get from each of them. It’s great to use fresh summer vegetables for, but I usually end up making it all year round with whatever fresh veggies I can get.

That’s another great thing about ratatouille, there are no rules really (unless you’re a French chef, Julia Child, or a talking mouse that is). There are traditional ingredients like tomatoes, eggplant, onion, garlic, zucchini, and bell peppers, but you don’t have to adhere exactly to that. You can put in whatever fresh veggies you want.

The key word here is fresh. Don’t put in anything frozen or canned (besides tomatoes). Just don’t. It’ll hurt me and it’ll hurt you, and we don’t want that. Listen to your inner Julia Child/talking mouse and use fresh veggies.

A lot of people also argue about the proper technique for cooking ratatouille. Some say you should individually cook each vegetable before adding it to the pot. Some say you should layer all the vegetables. Some say you should bake it. Some say not. Some say you should just throw it all in a pot at once and be done with it.

I say. Choose whatever method floats your boat, because it’ll probably taste fine whichever you choose.

I like to saute the veggies individually before adding them to the pot. I think it brings out the flavor of the individual veggies more, but that’s just me. If you prefer to just throw all the veggies in the pot then power to ya.

Also, you don’t really need a whole lot of seasoning for this dish. The star of the dish should be the flavors of the fresh veggies, not the seasoning. I usually just add a little basil and oregano, and then salt and pepper to taste. That’s why it’s so important to use fresh, in season vegetables.

So here’s my ratatouille recipe. Again, feel free to substitute vegetables. For example, it’s really hard to find zucchini in Japan, so I don’t usually include it. I even left out the eggplant once when all the grocery stores in my vicinity were mysteriously out of eggplant. Other veggies I’ve used before include asparagus, green beans, mushrooms, and yellow squash. Go with the flow (and season). And use fresh veggies.

Ratatouille (serves 2)

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 c. fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 eggplant (or about 5 Japanese eggplants), halved, quartered, and sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper (2 – 3 Japanese piiman), chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 2 whole tomatoes diced (or one can diced tomatoes – this is the only non-fresh veggie I think it’s okay to fudge on)
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil (or handful fresh basil, chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano (or handful fresh oregano, chopped)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat about two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about two minutes. Add garlic and cook for about one minute. Turn heat down to low/med-low.
  2. In a separate skillet, heat another tablespoon of olive oil. Saute each remaining vegetable separately (except the tomatoes) over med-high heat for 3 – 4 minutes. You want the vegetables to get slightly browned, but not lose their crispness. After sauteing each vegetable, add it to the pot with the onion and garlic.
  3. Add the tomatoes, basil, oregano, and bay leaves to the pot, and mix. Raise heat back to medium and cook until vegetables tender, about ten minutes. Remove bay leaves, season with salt and pepper, and serve with fresh bread.

May 19, 2011 at 9:40 am 3 comments

About Me

My name is Rachel. I'm a small-town girl born and raised in Oklahoma, currently living in Japan, who likes cooking, baking, reading, working out, and traveling. Join me in my culinary adventures, my domestic doings, and the story of my life, one day at a time.

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