Friends and Frittata

Merry Christmas to you and yours! I’m home with my family this holiday eating anything and everything you can make with butter. Cookies, pierogi (my grandmother and mom both immigrated from Poland), fried potatoes… There are certain staples during the holiday season that most American families can’t live without. Butter is one of them. And glitter is another.

Santa was too good to me. I’d settle for a new pair of slippers, but Patrick and my parents gave me a new camera, which I’m interpreting as their subtle way of encouraging me to keep blogging. His parents also spoiled me. They got me a gorgeous mixer, which I’m interpreting as their subtle way of encouraging me to keep baking and sending them cookies.

Being home means a whirlwind of visits with old friends and family members. It’s true what they say about our closest friends in life. You can go months without talking and when you see each other you pick up right where you left off… Which in our case, is talking about the Spice Girls.

Back then we were Charlie’s Angels.

This morning, my aunt and uncle came over for breakfast, and I made a spinach and artichoke frittata. It’s a light entree great for serving at a brunch. It’s the kind of dish you can make ahead of time and serve warm or at room temperature.

Spinach and Artichoke Frittata

1/2 white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-ounce can of artichoke hearts, drained and diced
1 roasted red pepper (directions follow)
1 12-ounce bag of baby spinach
8 eggs
2 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp dried dill
3 tbs parmesan cheese
3 tbs feta cheese
2 tbs pine nuts
salt and pepper

To roast the red pepper: coat the pepper in olive oil, salt and pepper. On a cookie sheet or small oven-proof pan, bake at 375 for 15 minutes then switch to broil. Broil the pepper for 5-10 minutes or until the skin is black in areas. The pepper may need to be rotated throughout this process so that the skin is easier to peel. When the skin is bubbling and black, take the pepper and transfer to a paper bag or a bowl that you can cover with plastic wrap (this helps the skin bubble off). When the pepper is cool, peel off the skin and dice.

For the frittata: Whisk together the eggs and cream. Add the parmesan and dill and season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, in an oven-proof skillet, melt the butter (if you have any remaining olive oil from the pepper, add it to the butter) and sauté the onion. After the onion is soft, add the garlic and artichoke hearts. Season with salt and pepper. Then add the diced roasted red pepper and the spinach.

Cook until the spinach is wilted, then pour the egg mixture over the vegetables.

Cook just long enough for the mixture to begin to set (about 4-5 minutes). Crumble the feta cheese on top and sprinkle with pine nuts, then bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes. Let cool long enough to fully set and transfer to a serving platter.

The Blog Hole

Monday again, which means I was last here a week ago. Lame. It’s been one of those crazy weeks where…. well, you know. You’re doing the pre-Christmas-crazy-dance, too, I’m sure. Or maybe you’re doing the post-Hannukah-crazy-dance. Either way, it involves hair-pulling, food-cooking and a little butt-wigglin’. At least, it does if you’re me.

I thought I’d give you a little update about what I’ve been up to these last few days that has kept me away from you. Last Tuesday I made a cheesecake for a friend’s birthday party. The cooking didn’t start until late because I realized my spring pans were in storage. After a frantic drive across town, I made what turned out to be my most delicious cheesecake ever. I have finally found a recipe that satisfied my cheesecake requirements: dense but still creamy, flavorful but not over-the-top. I’ll share the recipe one of these days…If I’m feeling generous.

Wednesday, I had more cooking in store. Marianne and I had a date planned to make lasagnas for the office potluck. There was only one minor setback, though. The burglar alarm at my house (which is not connected nor being paid for) decided it’d be fun to go off the instant I got home from work that evening. Loud, awful, awful sirens. Simba, of course, panicked and hid under the bed.

Fish Taco was as calm as…. well… Fish Taco.

Nobody knew the code on the dang thing so it went off for probably 15 minutes before we finally managed to get it to stop. I’ve had a headache ever since…

Thursday, I went to see a holiday lights show in town. Spending a few years in Nashville spoiled me during Christmas time. The Opryland Hotel has one of the most beautiful Christmas displays I’ve ever seen. So I was a little underwhelmed by Santa’s Wonderland, but it was still a fun time. There was a even festive alligator made of lights. Need I say more?

The weekend was weekend-y, and today was the definition of a manic Monday. I woke up to realize a pipe had burst under my house. Possibly related to the toilet fun a few weeks ago? This is not to say I expect you to willingly click a link called “toilet fun.”

And after work it was a mad dash to the store to buy ingredients for cookies followed by a madder dash home to make it in time for the finale of The Sing-Off. (Don’t get me started on the results. My Nashville friend, Jeremy, is in Street Corner Symphony. I know they say “don’t kill the messenger,” but Nick Lachey will not be getting any Christmas cookies from me.)

Anyway, Patrick’s dad would hate me forever if I showed up to Christmas without my oatmeal cookies.  And tonight I decided to try another cookie recipe touted by Marianne called Split-Seconds. Here are the results.

Yum. Santa better be good to me this year.

All I want for Christmas is no more plumbing problems.

Fling Into Filing

While my friends in Nashville, Chicago and Cleveland were digging themselves out of mounds of snow this weekend, I dug myself out of mounds of paper. If there is one thing I could change about myself, I would be more organized. I HATE filing so much that I have approximately 4 years of filing I’ve been putting off (I’m only slightly exaggerating). And my kitchen cupboards frequently look like little mice crawl through them and dance around with cans on their backs, flipping over spices and packages of pasta as they go. Gross. Now I’m going to worry that mice really do go through my cupboards.

And you may remember my closet

They say that opposites attract though, and when it comes to Marianne, I’ve met my organizational match. What I lack in neatness and order, Marianne makes up for ten-fold. So when my amazing friend offered to come over on her Sunday and help me file, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I don’t think she knew what she was in for. But she showed up ready and eager, patiently teaching me what to keep and what to toss. She will never know how much this means to me.

It’s not quite done, but the pile is shrinking and slowly chaos is turning into order. And since I probably won’t see much snow in Texas this winter, I’m thinking of shredding the old papers into smithereens and making my own white Christmas. It may be a few days before the living room is back in order, but at least the Christmas tree looks nice.

And I think Simba agrees.

And The Winner Is….

Congratulations to my friend Carolina! She is the lucky winner in the CD giveaway and will be receiving a signed copy of Postmodern Love by Parzival. I hope she enjoys it!


In other news, I just noticed a jalapeño pepper randomly sitting on my couch. It must have fallen out of a grocery sack. Or perhaps it was dropped from the sky by the food gods as if to tell me: “Cook something, Monika. You’ve abandoned the kitchen lately. And while Freebirds burritos are delicious, your clothes aren’t getting any looser.” Just a theory.

Childish Innocence

On my recent trip back to Nashville, I made it into a store called PoPo. They sell kids’ toys. But I must still be a kid, because I was highly amused. Secretly, I think they’re really a store for adults, because no kid I know could afford the stuff they sell.

My mom felt compelled to buy me these so I stop fidgeting when I have nervous energy. You should watch the video. It’s kind of hypnotizing actually.

I left PoPo with a new goal in life. I want to invent some fad toy that all kids want and that will be completely meaningless five years later. Remember pogs? I had stacks of those stupid things.

I also left PoPo feeling completely unprepared for eventual parenthood. How will I find out about things like Sophie the Giraffe, which is apparently the favored teether among babies everywhere? How will I find out which stroller is best? How will I afford to send my kids to college when I could feed a small family for the price of an Ugly Doll? Yes, these are things I actually worry about. No wonder I have so much nervous energy….

Anyway, it’s a neat store, and if you’re ever in Nashville you should go. Bring your childish innocence… but, if you’re like me, you may want to leave your wallet in the car.