Oops and Gratitude

If you received a post notification today and stopped over only to find it missing, I apologize. The post (detailing a certain 7-year old’s birthday dinner of choice) will go live Monday. Until then…

Thank you all for your kind words, thoughts, condolences and prayers the last few weeks. The services and memorials were beautiful. We came together, shared pictures and stories, tears and laughter. We allowed ourselves to be vulnerable and for those few days, the family found wholeness in loss. What a gift she left us. So thank you again.

Wining Without Whining

From our last several posts you can tell we love the Finger Lakes Region of New York. We’ve been drawn to the area from the first time we stopped in with the kids years ago. While we love the quaint towns, friendly people, scenery, museums, etc., a large part of what drove us to stop in the first place was the wineries.

That's one big tank at Swedish Hill Vineyard & Winery on Cayuga Lake in New York.

That’s one big tank at Swedish Hill Vineyard & Winery on Cayuga Lake in New York.

Mike and I have been visiting wineries since a trip to Southern California early in our marriage. We were on our way from Palm Springs to San Diego, enjoying the desert and mountainous drive along I-15, when I needed a pit stop. We were both hungry, so figured we’d stop to eat as well. We ended up getting off the highway near Temecula, California and stumbled upon a winery. We had never been to a winery before, but we figured there was a good likelihood that it had bathrooms and food (plus we enjoy wine). It was a beautiful, old world looking building called Thornton Winery. While there we did our first wine tasting, enjoyed a snack and decided that since this was so much fun, we’d stop at one more down the road before getting back to the Interstate.

The first of many winery stops in our lifetime.

The first of many winery stops in our lifetime, Wilson Creek Winery.

Our next stop, Wilson Creek Winery, was the one that permanently hooked us on wine and viticulture. We’d apparently just missed the vineyard tour and Gerry Wilson, the proprietor, felt bad. We had no idea that there even was such a thing as vineyard tours, but he showed us around a little bit anyway. We listened, at first to be polite, but before long, we were having a fascinating conversation about wineries and life. We spent quite a bit of time with Gerry that afternoon and from then on, stopping and visiting wineries on vacation has become what we do.

2002 at Wilson Creek Winery.

2002 at Wilson Creek Winery.

We don’t consider ourselves to be oenophiles. We’re still learning how to identify the nuances of wine and couldn’t tell an aroma of currants from an aroma of blackberries, but we’re getting there. Most importantly though, we know what we like and we’ve developed a palate for wines from a wide variety of regions – not just California. In fact, we’ve stopped at wineries in 20 different states as well as Canada. The wine industry has exploded and has made for some fun pit stops on our many road trips throughout the states.

Even the wild west has wine to offer!

Even the wild west has wine to offer!

And yes, this includes trips with and without the kids. You see, Mike and I both recall having to stop with our parents at “boring” historical sites along our vacation routes (like the Sod House), and can each recount our “dreadful” experiences at the Amana Colonies along I-80 in Iowa. (Ironically the Amana Colonies now offer wine making walks!) While these stops are likely not at all boring or dreadful, and our negative feelings surely had more to do with our ages, Mike and I still vowed not to put our kids through such “torture.” Instead we take them to wineries!

A little tech time at a winery in the Niagara region of Ontario.

A little tech time at Stratus Vineyards in the Niagara region of Ontario.

While our kids at times roll their eyes and say the proverbial, “Aw, do we have to?” Mike and I just remind them that it could be a lot worse. “Back in our day…” Truthfully, for as much as the kids might initially complain about stopping to do something we like to do (it is a right of passage after all), we generally all have a great time. Mike and I make sure to make it an enjoyable experience for the kids and we’ve actually had some of our most memorable and relaxed meal time conversations and family games while at wineries. And then afterwards the kids make us stop at roadside historical markers for their enjoyment – oh the irony!

Mr. N was frequenting wineries before Miss A was even born!

Mr. N was frequenting Ontario wineries, like Chateau des Charmes, before Miss A was even born!

Truthfully, that’s how we pull it off. We spend our vacations doing a mix of activities that everyone enjoys. If Mike and I pick a winery, then the kids are on deck to decide what’s next and somehow or another, we all manage to have fun no matter where we end up – winery or a kids’ museum.

Kids love big tanks and barrels!

Kids love big tanks and barrels!

So since we’re often asked how we end up at so many wineries on our vacations and since it is travel and winery season, we figured we’d share a few tips for visiting wineries with kids in tow. We should start by saying, we don’t recommend planning a weekend evening with friends at a winery with the kids (unless it’s a private event for families); we wouldn’t suggest spending hours drinking the day away (we don’t visit wineries to “drink”); and we certainly don’t condone drinking and driving while intoxicated under any circumstances. However, if you’re looking for a relaxing lunch stop, enjoyable evening sunset or are truly interested in learning a little bit about wine and viticulture, then visiting wineries with your kids is perfectly acceptable, and it can be fun.

Kids don't always need tech to be entertained.

Kids don’t always need tech to be entertained. Baroda Founders Wine Cellar

Tips for visiting wineries with kids (Mr. N and Miss A both started around age 3):

1. Prep your kids for winery behavior.
Having done this more than once now, the kids know what we expect when we say it’s time for “winery behavior.” Basically it’s similar to restaurants, museums, stores, etc. We ask that they stay with us, or in an area we designate as kid-safe, don’t touch things that don’t belong to them, keep their voices lower, no running and be polite. You’re the best judge of your own kids and can determine what they can handle. For us this means we sometimes select the few wines that we want to try, make our purchase and leave. Other times, this means that we have a few minutes to enjoy our tasting, ask the host questions and savor our sips.

Instead of naps in the car, we relax deckside.

Instead of naps in the car, we relax deckside at Fielding Estates Winery.

2. Avoid weekends if possible.
This isn’t always possible, but if it can be avoided, wineries are much less crowded on weekdays. Crowds can be difficult with kids, not impossible, but it’s certainly easier when the wineries aren’t overflowing with groups and crowds. Wine hosts are also less harried (justifiably) on weekdays and it can make the whole experience more enjoyable. You’re also more likely to meet an owner on a weekday. If you’re into wine making and the business of wine, wine owners are fabulous conversationalists. These are some of our favorite visits!

We had this place all to ourselves on a Monday afternoon.

We had Good Earth all to ourselves on a Monday afternoon.

3. If avoiding weekends is not possible, choose places with large outdoor areas, kids’ activities, or restaurants.
Sometimes you only have time for weekend travel and if you’re wanting to stop at a winery, consider places that you know have restaurants or large outdoor areas. Restaurants are great places to enjoy your tasting while feeding the kids, and large outdoor areas can give the kids room to run. Some wineries even have kid’s activity areas that include games, toys, coloring, etc. One of our favorite stops in Estes Park, Colorado, Snowy Peaks Winery, even has a playroom visible from the tasting area where kids can play while you taste. Genius if you ask us!

Wineries with lunch, tables and live music can be an exception to the  no-weekend rule.

Wineries with lunch, tables, playrooms or live music can be an exception to the no-weekend rule. Shady Creek Winery.

4. Make sure to have something for the kids to do.
Obviously not all wineries will have playrooms. In this case, come prepared. We bring small games, books and of course electronics – iPods, iPads, etc. to keep the kids occupied. If you plan to have a glass of wine after the tasting on a veranda in the sun, or to watch the sunset, never underestimate the power of a deck of cards and a good game of “Go Fish.”

“Fishy, fishy in the brook…” from the beautiful deck at Contessa.

5. Don’t plan more than 2 to 3 wineries in one day and make sure to stop for kids’ activities in between.
Some trips we’ll plan one winery visit over lunch or for dinner. It allows Mike and I to squeeze in our interests while feeding the kids. On other trips, we travel through wine regions with the intention of stopping at more than one winery a day. In this case, we usually stop for a tasting mid-morning, lunch and sometimes late afternoon. On days like this we’ll make sure to spend the rest of the time doing activities the kids choose – museums, historical stops, hiking, parks, fairs, mini-golf, the beach, etc. No one complains on these days!

This winery had a little park!

Hickory Creek Winery has a little park and hang out space!

6. Limit your time at the tasting bar.
This is one of those where you need to follow your kids’ lead. If the kids are entertained, occupied and content, you can enjoy your tasting a little longer. Perhaps ask the host about the grape varietals, where they’re grown, how they got into the business, etc. Wine hosts and owners are generally very passionate about their wine and wineries and appreciate when people want to learn about what they do. Alternatively, if you want to stop and enjoy a tasting, but also spend some time with the kids, sample a few of your favorites and purchase a glass to sit outside and enjoy some snacks together. However, if you know you’re on borrowed time with the kids, sample a few of your favorite wines and make a purchase to enjoy at a later date.

Outdoor patios are a great place to play and sip.

Outdoor patios are a great place to play and sip like this one at Snow Farm Vineyard in Vermont.

7. At the winery do your tasting at the end of the bar or near a seating area for your kids.
When wineries aren’t crowded, it’s often easy to find a table or picnic bench that’s within close proximity to the tasting area. These tables are a great place to set the kids up with their activities. If it’s a bit more crowded and seating is limited, the kids will stay by us at the end of the tasting bar. They usually end up finding a spot along the wall to sit and read or play their game. The key is to keep them out of the way, but close enough so that the winery staff knows you’re on the ball. This leads well into our next point…

Some wineries have designated kid play places!

Some wineries have designated kid play places like 12 Corners!

8. Do not leave your children unattended.
Wineries are not meant for children. That’s not to say that children aren’t welcome, as we mentioned, some wineries plan for them. However, wineries are intended to be adult establishments. Wine hosts and other patrons will not appreciate your child running a muck through the gift shop or in the vineyard, no matter how cute you think they are. This is not a time to let them test their independence. Keep them close, entertained and behaving.

Winery pets are not there to babysit, but are fun to play with!

Winery pets are not there to babysit, but are fun to play with at Silver Hills!

Miss A was crushed when she realized we only bring home the plush variety of winery mascots.

Miss A was crushed when she realized we only bring home the plush variety of winery mascots. Mackinaw Valley Vineyards

9. Ask if the winery has sparkling grape juice available for tasting or purchase.
Some wineries will have both red and white sparkling grape juice which is always a thrill for the kids. They love to do a tasting and pick which one they want to purchase. It’s a great way to make the kids feel involved and an easy way to keep them entertained.

Kids love bubbles!

Kids love bubbles! Fox Run has it all with grape juice, plush fox toys and food. 

10. Reward good behavior.
As we mentioned we often let the kids pick activities in between wineries and let them share in the vacation planning process. It generally keeps things running smoothly and often times makes it more enjoyable for us all. I’m sure the kids have led us to adventures we never would have otherwise experienced! But that said, we’re also not above bribery every now and then, and have been known to let the kids pick a souvenir from the gift shop. You may recall Miss A’s winery mascot collection!

Tasting crackers and biscuits are a fun treat and go great with sausage and cheese.

Tasting crackers and biscuits are a fun treat and go great with sausage and cheese. Did we mention Fox Run has a great balcony too?

11. Don’t push the kids beyond their limits.
Don’t plan to visit a winery when the kids are over tired, and if they are hungry choose a winery with food options.

Did we mention kids like tasting crackers?

Did we mention kids like tasting crackers? Miss A did at Silver Hills Winery in Nebraska.

12. Research wineries ahead of time.
Some wineries will mention kid friendly areas, games or even outdoor walking paths on their websites. Hikes are a great way to get the kids outdoors, exploring and off the beaten path (just make sure to stay out of restricted areas and do not touch grapes or vines!). Our travels and tastings have led us to discover frog ponds, donkeys, Bocce ball and even petting zoos!

This sure beats McD's playland!

Shram Vineyards sure beats MickyD’s playland!

13. Thank your host.
If you enjoyed your experience and your wine, we believe it’s important to purchase a bottle (or two or three). Wineries don’t make a fortune at the tasting bar (in fact many offer free tastings), but rather their income is generated from selling their wine. Purchasing a bottle is a great way to bring a part of your trip home, and most importantly, it’s a way to thank your host. They also make great gifts for family and friends.

IMG_6405

While these were purchased on our NY trip sans kids, we’ve been known to bring home a case or two from our travels.

14. Leave it as you found it.
If your kids have a snack or are playing with their toys, make sure to clean up the space before you leave. Wipe away the crumbs, put away any toys or games provided by the winery, make sure your kids’ personal belongings are accounted for and throw away any trash.

Don't leave baby in a corner!

Don’t leave baby in a corner at Four Chimneys!

15. Finally, when you leave the winery, if outdoor space is available, let the kids run.
Before we load back into the car, whether we’ve stopped for lunch on a long drive, or are heading back to our lodging nearby, we make sure to “shake the sillies out.” While the kids are good about “winery behavior,” we realize it’s not their preferred state of being. So we always get a bit of movement back in our bodies. When a winery has a large open area, we run races, play tag or have tickle fights (making sure to avoid crowded areas and be respectful of other patrons of course!). If there’s no outdoor space, we’ll play follow the leader back to the car where Miss A determines when we walk, skip, gallop, jump, or run. In fact, when we pull into a winery now, the kids immediately evaluate the landscape and make our post-visit game plan.

Cartwheels only need a small amount of grass.

Cartwheels only need a small amount of grass but Snow Farm had plenty.

Who can get to the end of the row fastest?

Who can get to the end of the trail at Hidden Bench fastest?

Tag! You're it!

Tag! You’re it! Americana has room to roam.

What do you think? Is a winery now a part of your family vacation game plan? I know it’s a part of ours! In fact, we’ve got an opportunity to head back out to the Finger Lakes for a bit of family fun this month and I would say the kids are just as excited as we are – and we’re excited! Amazing how a few stuffed animals, games of tag and grape juice can change their perspective. Truthfully though, it really is all about quality family time. Whether we’re doing something Mike and I enjoy, something the kids love, or something we will all have fun at, it’s about being together, making memories and seeing the world; it just so happens we learn a little bit about wine making in the process.

Turning your kids into photographers makes for fun memories too!

Turning your kids into photographers makes for fun memories too! Miss A found lots of photo opps at Dancing Dragon Fly.

We’ll be back next week with a special birthday boy’s recipe request and then we’re off on our travels where we hope to share a few more recipes with local New York fare. Happy June everyone!

It’s Time to Vote….Chopped Challenge 2015

Sure we hardly have time to blog let alone cook these days, but we’re not about to miss our annual Chopped Challenge live blogging event! It seems it has become a sacred family tradition. As Mike and I were trying to figure out how to logistically pull it off this year, the kids became quite adamant that it still happen on Super Bowl Sunday (Sunday, February 1st). It appears the kids take this just as seriously as we do, and why not, it’s always a ton of fun.

Remember this mess from 2012:dirty dishes

Or this delicious winner from 2012 (Chiptole Grilled Lobster over Stir Fried Buckwheat Noodles):chopped main course

We kicked things up a notch in 2013 with homemade pasta versus lentil burgers. The homemade pasta won the prize, but the lentil burgers have been made many times since. Black Beluga Lentil Burgers with Muffaletta Olive Salad

beluga lentil and artichoke pasta

And last year, well the competition got stiff. Chopped Challenge Teams 2014Arghboozing

The kids favorite dish from last year – Toasted Apple and Bacon Tortellini. fried tortellini

So are you ready for this year’s cooking challenge? Below we’ll have three polls – one for appetizers, one for the main course, and one for dessert. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the format, we base this off of the Food Network’s “Chopped” series. The premise is simple, contestants must use the ingredients in the basket (no matter how crazy they seem) to create a dish. There are three rounds (appetizer, main course, and dessert). The winning dish of each round is selected based on taste, presentation and creativity.

Well, below you’ll find three basket options for each round. This year we’re pulling from the baskets that didn’t make the cut in the past three years. Some of the baskets are clearly more kind than others; though we won’t name names. We’re excited about them all and look forward to the challenge. So, please select one basket (hitting “vote” on each poll – total of three) for each of the three rounds. The winners will then be announced in our live cook-off event on Sunday, February 1st, as Mike and I will go head-to-head to see what we can cook-up (will Mike be able to knock me off the winner’s circle this year?). Mr. N and Miss A will again serve as sous chefs, though teams have yet to be picked.

So without further ado…vote early and often! Voting remains open until Friday, January 30th. And make sure to stay tuned for the live blogging event and subsequent recipes. We can’t wait to see what you drop in our baskets this year!

For the Appetizer Basket we selected the non-winning baskets from 2013.

The Main Course options were taken from the non-winning baskets from 2014.

And the Dessert Basket comes to us from our very first year’s non-winning baskets in 2012.

Thanks for voting and we’ll be back, live (all day) on Sunday, February 1st for Chopped Challenge 2015!!!!

Four Years Ago

Well, this week marks four years of blogging here at Eat, Play, Love. We certainly don’t post like we used to (can’t believe I ever had time for three times a week!), but we’re still here, cooking and posting as we have time. Can you believe how much these kids of grown in the last four years?!

Our first official cooking adventure back in 2011.

Our first official cooking adventure back in 2011.

Not to mention how much their palate has certainly grown too. It’s been an amazing ride! But as we mention every year, the best part of this whole adventure is the people we have met both online and in person over the past few years. You have all enriched our lives so much and for that we are forever grateful.

Now, let’s kick off this fifth year of blogging with a recipe and a little holiday recap. It’s hard to believe December has come and gone already. It was quite a whirlwind of travel – visiting good friends and family. The kids had field trips and class parties. Mike and I had lots of year-end work, shopping, holiday prep…I’m sure many of you can relate. We didn’t cook or bake nearly as much as usual this year with all of our travel, but we did manage a delicious Christmas Eve dinner.

Christmas Eve has been a special tradition for the four of us. We spend it together at home, making a large meal, opening a few presents, eating cookies and doing an annual Christmas light drive. It’s a cherished set of traditions. And speaking of traditions, a new one has taken root on this festive night for the past several years – the cooking of a Bartolini recipe. It all began with Chicago John’s Spaghetti alla Carbonara. We even went all out and made homemade pasta. It was perfection. Then the next year Chicago John posted this beauty and we knew once again a Bartolini meal would grace our holiday table. So, this year, the question wasn’t what to make for dinner, it was what Bartolini dish to make for dinner! The winner for this year (and it was certainly a winner!), roasted duck ravioli. Delizioso! Four spoons all around John – no question.

Unfortunately we don’t have any pictures of the ravioli to share, but here are a few of our holiday. yes!

chipper

hobbs

If you look very closely you can see two cats in the tree!

If you look very closely you can see two cats in the tree!

just what I wanted

We did, however, manage to take a photo of the one cooking adventure we squeaked out during the holidays. Mr. N chose the country of Denmark as our destination. We wanted to make a traditional Danish holiday treat and the Pebernodder was just the thing. It’s a spice cookie which reminded us a lot of one of our family recipes but with one major difference – the addition of white pepper. I’d never heard of pepper in cookies before, so we figured this one would be our new cookie for the year.
Pebernodder

The cookies were soft and chewy with a sweet initial taste that then ended with a zing. The pepper wasn’t over-powering at all, but it did give these little bites a bit of zing. While they didn’t quite surpass our favorite holiday cookies, they did ring in with three spoons all around which I would say is a good solid cookie.

Print the recipe: Pebernodder

As for the rest of our holidays…Well, we left the frigid temps to visit Nana and Papa in Florida, with a quick stop at Universal Studios along the way. The weather was perfect, the kids once again proved themselves fantastic little road warriors (it’s a 24 hour drive) and well, how can you go wrong ringing in the New Year on a beach with fireworks?
Hogwarts Express

Diagon Alley

Gringotts

Dusk

sunsets

starfish

waves

beach fun

You have no idea how much we wish we were still there! It sure beat the wind chills of 25F below we’re having here now. Burrr!!!!! That said, we are happy to be settling back into our routines and feel a bit more rested after the holiday rush. Well, most of us are happy about it…Hobbs was quite sad to lose his tree.
my tree!

Thank you all again for following along on our adventures for the past four years. It’s been a bigger part of our lives and much more of a learning experience than we ever anticipated. We hope this new year finds you all happy, healthy and making delicious memories. Until next time!

A Busy Kitchen

While we don’t post nearly as often as we used to, our kitchens by no means have slowed down. We’ve been making new and old recipes pretty regularly now. Sometimes the kids are on-hand to help, but most of the time they have other things keeping them busy. homework

While I’m usually at the sink, stove or counter, the kids are doing their homework, coloring, or just talking with me about their day. When Mike is home, he’ll be in the kitchen with me, helping me chop vegetables or putting dishes away. We have one cat, Chipper, that likes to sit at the stool on the other side of the counter or at the kitchen window so that he can supervise everyone, especially his little brother Hobbs. He much prefers to observe him from above. chipper

As for Hobbs, he’s either running through the kitchen chasing toys, nipping at my toes and whining to be picked up, or curled up in a little ball on the rug in the center of my work area. I’m fairly certain he’s going to cause me to have accident one of these days. However, more often than not, he’s climbing things he’s not supposed to and having to repeatedly be set back on the floor. He is awful cute though. Hobbs

We haven’t made too many international dishes lately; although we do have plans for a new recipe next weekend. I have, however, been teaching Mr. N some kitchen basics. He’s old enough now to learn how to operate the stove, oven and microwave. I’ve even had him make a few meals for he and Miss A all by himself. I just walk him through step-by-step. So far we’ve tackled pasta, shrimp, roasted chickpeas and homemade pizza. We, of course, have had to start with his favorite foods! LEGOS

It’s been fun to teach him and spend this time with him. It gives us a few minutes in his busy day that are just ours. I think he enjoys it too. At first he wasn’t too thrilled to have to learn these things, but once I explained to him that someday he might want to cook a special meal for a special girl, he was much more on board. He’s growing up so much! Fortunately for me, those days are still a ways off (whew!), and the only girl he’s cooking for right now is his little sister. And I have to say, she was very impressed that Mr. N made her dinner. She adores him and loves anything he does for her, unless of course he’s made her mad that day, in which case he’s best just steering clear of her six-year old wrath. sibling rivalry

So, the kitchen, it’s still the center of our ever-changing universe. And until Miss A and I get that next international recipe rolling, I thought I’d share with you a dish that Mike and I ate last week. It’s definitely a warm, comforting fall dish loaded with fresh and inviting flavors. It’s an Acorn Squash stuffed with Lemon & Ginger Risotto. Stuffed Acorn Squash

You can find the recipe here: Lemon Ginger Risotto with Acorn Squash

I roasted the acorn squash while I prepared the risotto. Once both dishes were done, I scooped the risotto into the squash for serving. squash and risotto

The sharp, fresh taste of the lemon and ginger were a great complement for the nutty flavor of the squash. Mike and I both gave the dish 3 spoons. lemon ginger risotto with acorn squash

We topped the risotto with toasted walnuts. We didn’t use any Parmesan or cream as we were trying to keep it healthy, but either would be a nice addition as well. Fortunately we made enough risotto to stuff two more squash later in the week. Lemon & Ginger Risotto

The leftover risotto heated well, but this time we tweaked the recipe a bit and added some sauteed spinach to the risotto as well as some mild Italian sausage. We enjoyed this version as much as the first. The spinach added a little lemony bitterness to the dish that to me just completed it perfectly. acorn squash

The kids, as many of you know, eat many things, and often many exotic or unusual things. Squash, however, is not one of them. Try as I might, they do not like the sweetness or the texture of the vegetable. In all fairness, I didn’t either until I was in my 20’s, so there’s still hope. Until then, there’s more for Mike and I to enjoy. Acorn Squash Stuffed with Lemon & Ginger Risotto

We’ll be back in a bit with Miss A’s international dish. It’s a yeast-based recipe, so goodness knows how we’ll fare. Fortunately, Miss A is better at cooking with yeast than I am, so our odds are better with her in the kitchen. Until then, enjoy your changing seasons and have a great Halloween! More soon. Cheers!

Miss A’s Green Thumb

I do not have a green thumb. Plants under my care do not live long. It is a proven fact. Still, each year I try to grow herbs and flowers and make our backyard somewhat less of a weed garden. Two years ago we tried to grow herbs from seeds and that little experiment ended up all over our living room carpeting. Last year we bought grown herbs and planted them along the house. Our results were mixed. The sage, rosemary and thyme did very well, but the basil died within a few weeks. basil leaves

This year, we tried again. We’ve also added sun flowers, baby tomatoes and impatiens to the mix. The tomatoes were Miss A’s request. I warned her that I’m not very good at gardening, but she insisted and said not to worry, she’ll take care of them. We’re six weeks in and I’m proud to report that the herbs are growing well. Even the basil, while not thriving, is better than last year. We have three sun flowers (we planted many more than three seeds mind you) are coming up and will hopefully survive. The impatiens are thriving and Miss A’s baby tomatoes are producing. I can’t report on how they taste, because so far, she has eaten them all. She said they are perfect. dry ingredients

So today’s recipe brings a bit of our “thriving” garden into the mix and features some decidedly summer flavors. After a recent visit to our favorite farm, I learned how to make a beautiful oat quiche crust from scratch. The kids loved it (especially Mr. N) and, as you may remember, I love any kind of non-yeast dough I can get my hands on. The fabulous thing about a quiche is that it can be suited to a variety of different flavors. Have leftover veggies in the fridge? Toss them in! Fancy cheese, regular cheese…no matter, it’s your canvas. So with the oat crust under our belts and our growing garden as inspiration, we created the Tomato Mozzarella Quiche. wet and dry ingredients

We began with our crust. It’s a simple 1:1 ratio of oats to flour and a 1:1 ratio of olive oil and water. We used 1 cup each of flour and oats and 1/4 cup each oil and water. I also chopped up some fresh basil and oregano and tossed it into the dough for extra flavor. The measurements are rough. A lot of it is based on feel. If it’s too dry, add more oil and water. If it’s too sticky, some more flour. quiche dough ball

Once the dough is ready, it’s pressed into a pie dish – over the bottom and up the sides. oat flour quiche dough

Next it was time for our ingredients. First we went with a layer of caramelized balsamic onions because they’re just really good. I don’t have a recipe for these. I just caramelized onions and added some balsamic vinegar toward the end of cook time. They provided the first layer of our quiche. balsamic caramelized onions

Next came the tomatoes with a layer of fresh basil leaves. These aren’t the tomatoes from our garden since those have all been eaten, but the basil was ours. layering quiche

Then came the slices of fresh mozzarella (we’re lucky this didn’t disappear either, as Miss A is known for devouring a lot of fresh cheese). mozzarella fresh

Finally, it was time for the eggs. We whisked together several eggs with half & half as well as some more chopped basil. This was then poured over the tomatoes and mozzarella, and then seasoned with a spritz of lemon juice, salt and pepper. eggs and cream

The quiche baked for 45 minutes at 350F and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Tomatoes, basil and mozzarella are some of my favorite summer flavors. I knew this would be delicious (at least I hoped it would be). I had high expectations. tomato quiche 2

That said, this meal was somewhat of a risk. While I knew Mr. N was a huge fan of the oat crust, I also know he doesn’t like tomatoes. And while Miss A is happy to snack at tomatoes and mozzarella on their own, she doesn’t much care to combine them (although I think she’ll learn!). mozzarella quiche

The quiche was cooked perfectly. The center was slightly wiggly and it was cooked all the way through. It sliced cleanly and served easily. We enjoyed our quiche with a fresh spinach salad and a piece of homemade rosemary bread. A lovely homemade summer meal. (Especially lovely that it’s finally a homemade meal!) tomato mozz quiche

We tried the quiche both on its own and with a bit of a balsamic reduction. Both were delicious. The tomatoes were juicy. The basil was fresh and peppery, and the onions were sweet and succulent. It was divine. At least for me. It clearly lived up to my expectations and I’m happy to give it a 4 spoon rating. tomato basil quiche

Mike also enjoyed the quiche, but not as much as I did. He felt the onions should have been dispersed more throughout the quiche. So he gave it three spoons. I didn’t have a problem getting a bite of everything on my fork, but I see his point. Still it didn’t alter my vote one bit. Tomato Mozzarella Quiche

Mr. N also gave the quiche a 3 spoon vote. He loved everything about it – except the tomatoes. They were cast to the side. Still the rest of it he seemed to enjoy and even asked for seconds. (Don’t worry, his tomatoes did not go to waste!) birthday girl

Miss A, who is incidentally our birthday girl this week, only gave the quiche 2 spoons. She said that she didn’t mind eating it, but wouldn’t want to eat it again. She did deconstruct her quiche and ate every piece of tomato, mozzarella and crust. The eggs and basil were left behind.

Print this recipe: Tomato Mozzarella Quiche

Tomato Mozzarella Quiche

Not too worry though, Miss A will have her own special birthday recipe coming soon. I think she may even make it herself. She is plotting. She’s even planned her pictures. Definitely a food blogger in the making.

We have another week of more birthday celebrations and plays for both of the children coming up. Miss A has decided that she wants a bit of the stage glory. We’re not yet sure how Mr. N will react to sharing the spotlight, but it’s certain to be entertaining!

Have a wonderful couple weeks. Cheers!