Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Thrifted Outfit of the Day: Professional Buffalo Plaid

I think this may have been one of my all-time favorite outfits, combined from some of my all-time favorite thrift store finds. This shrunken buffalo plaid jacket, for example, was scrounged for 25¢. When I found it, I was working for a Catholic Charities agency and spending one day a week at a community store and thrift shop. Each day was spent with the crew of volunteers - all elderly - as they sorted through immense piles of donations, maintained order among the racks, and took numerous breaks for coffee, coffee cake, and lunch. Often, one of the volunteers would set aside a sweater or jacket she thought would suit me, and, whether or not I agreed, I was excited and touched to see their suggestions. 

I love this outfit not just for the individual items, but for the way they balance one another out. The curve-hugging skirt softens the boxy jacket; the bold check adds some needed edge to the professional, businesslike skirt. 

Finally, I was happy to be able to add one of my favorite tights tips to the outfit. I have a lot of colorful jewel tone tights, but I often feel shy about wearing them to work - they're just so bold! Today I layered a pair of dark red tights under lightweight, sheer black tights. While they look solid black from a distance, you can just get a hint of the red underneath.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Lenten Special: The fluffiest vegetarian quiche

Happy Friday! No matter what your Friday has in store, here is a treat for you. Simple? Hearty? Seasonal? Chic? Meat-free? This vegetarian quiche has you covered - with a trick to make it the fluffiest quiche you've ever made.

 Fluffy Quiche with Kale and Cornbread Crust - With Gluten-Free and Lactose-Free Options

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour, or all-purpose gluten free flour, or rice flour.
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Ice-cold water

5 eggs, separated
2/3 cup plain yogurt
2/3 cup milk (sub lactose-free milk or unsweetened milk alternative of your choice)
4 generous handfuls of kale, spinach, or other seasonal greens, (or a combination!) - enough to fill a large colander.
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons crushed sage leaves (If you have ground sage, use 1-2 TEAspoons instead.)

Optional: Parmesan cheese to grate over the top
Roma tomatoes

Preheat your oven to 375°. Spray a 9" pie pan with non-stick spray and set aside.
To make crust:
Place dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.
Cut in the butter, or use your fingers to blend it.
Add water a tablespoon at a time, using a large spoon or your hands to mix it in, until a dough forms.
It will still be crumbly - that's okay!
Be careful not to overmix.
Squish the dough together and then press it evenly into the pie plate, guiding it up onto the edges.
If you like, use your fingertips or a fork to make a fluted edge.
Poke a few holes into the bottom of the crust with a fork.
Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and set aside.

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling.
Wash the greens and chop coarsely.
Place them in a steamer basket and steam for 3-4 minutes, until they are limp and bright green.
Drain and squeeze to remove excess moisture.
You might need to steam them in two batches, depending on the size of your steamer basket.

Into the same bowl that you used for the crust, add the milk and yogurt.
Separate the eggs; put the yolks in the bowl and set aside the whites.
Add the seasonings and blend thoroughly.
Add the greens and toss to coat.

Now it's time for the trick!
Beat the egg whites to soft peaks.
I have found that the fastest, easiest, most fun way to beat egg whites is with my stick blender.
I put the whites in the cup, and I use the whisk attachment. Soft peaks in two minutes - it's a miracle!
When the whites are beaten, fold them into the mixture and pour onto the crust.

If you would like, grate some fresh parmesan over the quiche - just enough to lightly cover it.
You can also slice tomatoes and arrange them on top.

Place carefully in the oven and bake 30-40 minutes, until it's not jiggly, and a knife or fork comes out clean.

Full disclosure: This was an earlier version of the quiche - last night's fluffy quiche, the inspiration for this post, was so quickly devoured that it could not be photographed.