DSC05100I’m planning a birthday pie.

Specifically, Andy wants a banoffee pie. A portmanteau of banana and toffee, this is a British dessert that consists of a crushed cookie crust, a layer of toffee, a layer of banana, and a topping of whipped cream.

To make the toffee, I opened two cans of condensed milk and poured them out into a 9-inch pie plate. I covered the top tightly with foil and then I put the pie plate in a baking tray. I poured hot water in the tray so that it came halfway up the sides of the pie plate. Then I baked it at 425˚F/225˚C . I checked the toffee at 25 minute intervals to make sure the water did not boil out, and to add more hot water as needed. There was no need to open the foil cover because I could see the milk through the glass sides. As soon as it turned light golden brown, I took it out of the oven. It took 1 hour and 40 minutes to make this toffee.

broccoli cheese pie, october 9, 2010

Broccoli Cheese Pie

Preheat the oven to 350˚F and spray a 9 inch glass pie plate with cooking spray. Sprinkle with whole wheat breadcrumbs and tilt the plate to coat the bottom and sides.

Add eggs, hot sauce, salt, and pepper. And I forgot to add one thing. Do you know what it is yet?

Chop the onion, ham and broccoli florets. Blanch the florets in boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold running water to stop the cooking process and to keep that bright green color.

Add 2 slices of cubed bread to the egg mixture. Still don’t know what I forgot yet. Hmm. I used the Texas Toast bread I bought at Trader Joe’s to make the breading for the center cut pork chops. I froze the rest of the loaf and just take out what I need.

Fry the onions and ham until the onions are wilted and fragrant. Yum.

Combine the bread-egg mixture with the blanched broccoli and the ham and onions. Still haven’t figured out what I forgot yet?

No, it’s not the cheese. I remembered that.

Doesn’t it look dry? Yikes. I forgot the milk! I poured everything out and added the milk to the mixture. This meant I had to wash and dry the pie plate. Then spray it again with cooking spray and dust it with breadcrumbs. Then I poured the mixture back into the plate and as an after thought, sprinkled the top with seasoning salt. Then I put the pie in the oven. And crossed my fingers.

After 50 minutes in the oven, the eggs had set and the top was golden brown.

This is why I like glass plates. I can see the sides and the bottom. I let the pie rest for 5 minutes before cutting it into wedges.

The broccoli cheese pie makes a great breakfast by itself or, if served with a side of salad becomes a light brunch or lunch.

Of course, you have to serve it with Sriracha Sauce on the side. Everything tastes better if it burns the palate. Here’s the list of ingredients, and if you forget the milk, you can always add it at the last minute!

Broccoli Cheese Pie (from: eating
2 tablespoons whole wheat bread crumbs
cooking spray
4 eggs
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (This is too conservative. Feel free to add more)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 1/4 cups zero percent milk
2 cups cubed bread (the hearty kind, as America’s Test Kitchen likes to point out)
3 cups broccoli florets
1/3 cup diced sliced ham (Canadian bacon in the original recipe)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup grated Cheddar-Jack cheeses (can substitute any low fat low calorie cheeses)
Seasoning salt, optional

italian egg strata with turkey sausage and vegetables


Italian Egg Strata with Turkey Sausage and Vegetables (adapted from Dash)
It’s so nice not to have to rush to get dinner on the table. How I love the weekends! The nice thing about this dish is that it can be prepared ahead of time, stored in the refrigerator, then baked for a weeknight dinner. For a Sunday night dinner, it is the best. According to the original recipe, each serving is 380 calories, but since I made substitutions like nonfat milk instead of 2% and whole wheat bread instead of white, that lessens the calorie count. To reduce calories further, substitute part-skim mozzarella cheese for the Monterey Jack cheese.

Servings: 8
Prep Time: 20 minutes plus  20 minutes resting time
Cook Time: 1 hour
TOTAL TIME: 1 hr 40 min (includes resting time)

1⁄2 cup sliced scallion
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 zucchini, chopped
4 cups fresh baby spinach
1 lb sweet turkey sausage, casings removed, broken into bite-size chunks
7 eggs
3 cups nonfat milk
1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan-Romano cheese
1⁄4 tsp black pepper
1 half loaf whole wheat baguette (about 5 cups), cut into large chunks
1 cup grated reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese
Salt and pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and a large skillet with cooking spray. If using a glass dish or a pan with a dark nonstick finish, reduce heat to 325˚F and bake for 55 minutes.

2. Sauté scallion, red pepper, and zucchini in the skillet for 4 minutes. Add sausage and continue cooking until sausage is browned. When the meat is almost cooked through, add the spinach. Cook until the spinach is wilted. Turn off the heat. The meat and vegetable mixture will spring water, so drain it well and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk eggs. Add milk, Parmesan-Romano, and black pepper.

4. In the prepared baking dish, layer half the bread, half the egg mixture, and half the drained sausage-vegetable mixture.  Repeat layers.

5. Press down the top to make sure the bread is completely submerged. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and if desired, with crushed red pepper flakes too.  Let the strata rest for 20 minutes. At this point, you can prepare the strata up to a day ahead and store, covered, in the refrigerator.

6. Just before baking, sprinkle with Monterey Jack cheese. Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown and puffy.

my everything crustless quiche

It’s Saturday-stock-the-pantry day. But first, I note to myself, make room in the fridge. I have eggs, half a pint of heavy cream that I bought to make a cake but changed my mind, a cup of home-made biscuit mix, assorted raw vegetables in various states of preparation, and inspiration.

This is basically Betty Crocker’s zucchini pie recipe, a crustless quiche which I’ve found robust enough to stand up to experimentation with the ingredients. For instance, I substituted the heavy cream for the milk–so of course it’s no longer low fat. But this is the basic recipe. For the veggies, I had eggplant, zucchini, asparagus, tomatoes, and onion. For the herbs I only had thyme and dill on hand. But any combination of herbs will do.

I forgot the cheese (I used Cheddar) so I sprinkled it on top then added the herbs on top of the cheese. It was a delicious mistake! For this recipe  and the recipe for the homemade biscuit mix, see my previous post the versatile crustless zucchini quiche.

third time’s a charm!

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I took Andy and AJ to Jing Fong in Chinatown for Father’s Day. Jing Fong is at 20 Elizabeth Street near the corner of Canal, and it specializes in Dim Sum. Dim Sum is a meal that consists of small dumplings, steamed and fried, savory and sweet. I prefer the steamed to the fried, and I love both savory and sweet dumplings! Dim Sum is served from steam carts  and trolleys wheeled from table to table, where you just point and it is put before you in these bamboo baskets, straight from the kitchen. There’s nothing fancy about Dim Sum; it’s all about the different ways rice flour can be rolled, molded, and shaped around a delicious filled center. Dim Sum is best eaten before noon, in my opinion. In any case, it’s seldom served in the afternoon. So Dim Sum filled us up for most of the day. For dinner, I made Misty’s Vegetarian Lasagna, my third try. They say the third time’s a charm. And so it was.

misty’s vegetarian lasagna

I’m not a vegetarian. I’m an unabashed omnivore. On a sliding scale from meat lover on one end to veggie nibbler on the other I’m probably a seven. A little more than half way. But I do enjoy a hearty vegetarian meal–if it makes me forget it’s meatless. Taranee’s friend Misty has this recipe for vegetarian lasagna that does that. It’s satisfying without being heavy. I had a Senior Moment while I was assembling the pie and now I have leftover lasagna noodles! Oh well. I’ll just cut them up and put them in some chicken vegetable soup.

You’ll note as you gather your mis en place for the lasagna that you must use Italian seasoning. You can use store-bought but even better, make your own. Here is a great recipe for Italian seasoning. It is by Dean Ornish and it’s called

A Little Italian

2 tablespoons each of:
dried basil
dried marjoram
dried oregano
ground coriander
dried thyme
dried rosemary
dried savory
1-2 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes, optional
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

The method is very simple. Process all the spices and herbs until well blended. Store in a jar in a cool dry place and use as needed in pasta sauces and salad dressings.

Vegetarian Lasagna (serves 10-12)

2 eggs
2 cups reduced fat cream style cottage cheese
15 ounces reduced fat ricotta cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons butter or margarine (I substituted olive oil for 1 tablespoon)
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 to 1 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups skim milk
2 (10 oz) packages frozen chopped spinach or broccoli, thawed and drained thoroughly (I used 2 x 7 oz bags fresh baby spinach. If you use fresh spinach, increase the flour to 3 tablespoons.)
1 medium carrot, shredded
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
salt to taste
9 oven ready lasagna noodles (I used cooked noodles and they tasted better)
2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (oops. Forgot it, but didn’t miss it)
1 cup marinara sauce 1 18oz jar marinara sauce

Beat the eggs lightly in a medium bowl. Stir in the cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, and Italian seasoning. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic. Sauté until tender. Stir in the flour and pepper. Add the milk. Cook until thickened and bubbly, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in the spinach, carrot, 1/2 cup of Parmesan, and salt. [Cook’s Note: If the sauce starts to thicken too quickly, remove it from the heat.]

Now here’s the part where I got mixed up:
1. Layer 1/3 of the spinach mixture and 1/3 of the noodles into a greased 9×13 inch baking dish.

2. Layer half the cottage cheese mixture, half of the remaining spinach mixture, half the mozzarella cheese, half the cheddar cheese, and half of the remaining noodles.

3. Layer the remaining half of the cottage cheese mixture, the remainder of the spinach mixture, the cottage cheese, the cheddar cheese, and the last of the noodles.

4. Spread the marinara sauce on top. sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

5. I recommend putting the lasagna on a baking tray to catch the spills. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until heated through. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Cook’s Note: you may assemble the lasagna, cover with foil and chill for up to 48 hours before baking. To freeze, wrap the unbaked lasagna tightly with foil. Freeze for up to 2 months. To serve, bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 35 to 40 minutes longer or until hot and bubbly. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Related articles

the versatile crustless zucchini quiche with home made biscuit mix

I woke up this morning to a cool and rainy day. Perfect weather for a hot zucchini pie! Since I just thought of it, I didn’t have a zucchini on hand, unfortunately. Then I wondered what I could substitute. In the fridge I found leftover asparagus and kale and some grape tomatoes. Then I remembered this recipe by Betty Crocker for a crustless Zucchini Pie. I liked it the first time I made it because it didn’t deflate after cooling, like another crustless quiche recipe I’ve tried. I thought the Betty Crocker recipe would be robust enough to adapt. I decided to use my leftover vegetables and to spruce up the flavor with some added herbs, like thyme, rosemary, and dill weed. As the quiche baked,  a thin crust formed on the bottom from the biscuit mix. You can use Bisquick biscuit mix or you can make your own (see recipe below). I like to make up a batch fresh then store the leftovers in the refrigerator for another day.

Zucchini Quiche


1 cup chopped zucchini
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved (originally chopped tomato)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup home made biscuit mix (recipe below)
3/4 cup fat-free (skim) milk
2 eggs or 1/2 cup fat-free cholesterol-free egg product
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon dried dill weed


  1. Heat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease bottom and side of pie plate, 9×1 1/4 inches, with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Sprinkle zucchini, tomato, onion and cheese evenly in prepared pie plate.
  3. Stir together biscuit mix, milk, eggs or egg product, salt and pepper until blended. Pour evenly into pie plate.
  4. Sprinkle thyme, rosemary, and dill weed on top.
  5. Bake about 35 minutes or until a thin blade knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool at least 10 minutes.


  • 1/2 cup zucchini and 1/2 cup chopped yellow squash instead of 1 cup zucchini.
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen butternut or acorn squash. If you’re using fresh butternut or acorn squash it should be boiled until tender then drained.
  • 1 cup leftover cooked vegetables, chopped and drained of any liquid. Use asparagus spears, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, green beans, peas, carrots, mushrooms, butternut and/or acorn squash—be inventive!  Cabbage quiche? Baby bok choy quiche?

Home-made Biscuit Mix

1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Crisco All-Vegetable Shortening or Canola oil

Mix dry ingredients together, then using a pastry cutter cut the Crisco into the mix. Makes 1 cup Bisquick equivalent.

Unlike real Bisquick, this has to be stored in the fridge — which makes it less convenient, but it works if you have a recipe that calls for biscuit mix and you don’t usually keep it in your pantry cupboard. It is also good if you’re concerned about additives and preservatives in packaged food.