Oat Protein Balls

The kitchen right before the movers arrived and loaded it up with boxes.

I am working on a post about our new house, I promise. We are unfortunately still drowning in boxes. Some things are easier to unpack, while others it takes a little living in the house to find their spot. Also, have you ever tried to unpack boxes with a teething, crawling one-year old, who only wants mama to hold her? It should be an olympic sport.

Watching the storms roll in.

Today I am waiting around the house for an oven repair person that the superintendent of the job site supposedly called. I’m not holding my breathe after I texted him this morning to inquire what time frame they may show up in, and he told me to let him know if they don’t show up because they notoriously won’t show up for appointments. ::eye roll:: To say I’m annoyed would be an understatement. I’ve talked with a couple other neighbors, and apparently they have had the same problem, plus the superintendent himself told me they have been having this problem. A brand new house, and no oven for the first month of living in it. Absurd.

Yesterday was a blah day for us all around the house. I don’t know if it’s all the boxes or just the stormy day, but we didn’t want to do much. Usually I would bake, but oven woes prevented that, so I concocted instead.

I tried to create these protein balls last week, and they didn’t turn out the way I wanted. They were way too crumbly, need a little kick up to the sweetness…they just needed more. I went back to the drawing board. I’m happy to say the modifications I made yesterday were a winner, though I’m already planning another version in my head.

These are great for anyone trying to watch what they are eating and want a little sweet treat, but also they are fantastic for nursing mamas. I have tasted some of the lactation treats for nursing mamas…disgusting (for those not in the know, oats are great for helping you make milk, and yes we worry about these things, because we basically worry about everything now that we are moms).

Oat protein balls (a horrible name, I agree) are a perfect treat for anyone. Mr. PC took them with him to work this morning and now I have 1 left. Bummer. Time to make another version, and unpack some more boxes.

Print Recipe
Oat Protein Balls
Perfect sweet treat, especially for breastfeeding mama's. Copyright Croissant In The City, 2017
Course Snack
Prep Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 2-3 hours
Servings
pieces
Ingredients
Course Snack
Prep Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 2-3 hours
Servings
pieces
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Grease a baking dish or pan.
  2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Mix to evenly distribute.
  4. Add wet ingredients and mix until combine.
  5. Scoop with ice cream scoop or TBSP to portion evenly, then roll with your hands. Place in the baking pan and place in the refrigerator for a few hours until firm.
  6. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Let me know how long they last. In our house, they last about 24 hours.
Recipe Notes

Just a couple notes for you!

  • I used a dark roasted peanut butter and I love the depth of flavor it adds, but feel free to use what you have and/or what you like.
  • Guittard are my favorite chocolate chips, and you can now find them at Fry's and Sprouts.
  • Don't feel like you have to use the same add-in's that I used. I love hemp seeds because they are a great plant based protein. We use them daily in our smoothies. If you don't want to invest in a package of them for this recipe, sub in something else. Chopped or ground nuts perhaps or flaxseed meal.
  • If you are concerned about the digestibility of raw oats, you can always sub sprouted oats. I have also toasted the oats in the oven for 8-10 minutes at 325 (this doesn't really assist in digestibility, it's more to enhance flavor). For my purpose of this snack, to support lactation, raw oats seem to work better for me.
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Brown Butter Bits – Friday, July 14, 2017

Happy Friday, darlings! Brown Butter Bits is my weekly roundup of things I’m loving this week,  things happening this week, things I’m interested this week…well you get the point. Why “Brown Butter Bits”? They are the best parts of browning butter. 

-The sunsets here in Arizona have been amazing lately! Take a look at the picture above.

-I’ve been researching gardening, fruit trees, and flowers for when we get into our house. My favorite flowers, ranunculus, supposedly do well in the Arizona weather. The yard I once thought was so small, now seems enormous when I think about all the plants, pavers, and garden boxes we will need…yikes.

-I’m reading a number of cookbooks, but also picked up Chip & Joanna Gaines book. Pretty good. All about how they met and started their now empire. I think when we see people who are on the upswing of success, we often think it was incredibly easy. In this book, the Gaines are very honest about their challenges, and it’s refreshing. Plus they are an adorable couple.

-Hulu has all season of Golden Girls, which I spent a couple weeks re-watching, and now I’m watching Wings. I know, insane. But I was not really at an age when these shows were on  where I really watched them let alone comprehended them.

-Amazon Prime Day for the win! We got a great deal on a Ring doorbell. No more answering the door for us.

-I am loving cooking in my own kitchen again. It’s so nice to have all my cooking equipment back in one space. It’s just a little strange, as always, getting used to a new kitchen space. Check back here on Monday for a new recipe. :o)

Well, back to unpacking! See you on Instagram Stories!

 

Heartbroken And Without A Home

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Tree with a sail boat carving nailed to it at the first house.

Originally this post was stuffed full of wonderful photos I had taken of the new home we were in the process of purchasing. It was situated on 1.4 acres of land in Phoenix and we were so excited. A new home for Christmas and the bebe’s first Christmas to boot!

We sold our house in Gilbert, packed up all our belongings and hauled them to storage, moved into my parents living room with our Tuft & Needle mattress and a few boxes of our belongings for a couple weeks until we closed. And then the appraisal happened.

If you don’t know, the appraisal is the part of the home buying process where a 3rd party you hire comes and evaluates if the property is worth what you are paying for it. They save this inspection until last, and our sweet little house with the red door and the 1.4 acres of land appraised $30,000 less than what we were paying. The sellers didn’t want to drop the price, and asked us for a week to take all the bills for the money they had spent to remodel the house back to the appraiser to see if that would bring up the price. We saw this sinking ship before us and decided to jump back into the house hunting pool.

Quickly, we came upon another house. Back in the area we wanted to be in, and plenty large enough for us to grow into. There was no 1.4 acre lot, but we fell in love with the house and the neighborhood. And there was plenty of room for me to have some backyard chickens and citrus trees. And then the inspection happened.

A bunch of little things came up, but two big things, the pool they supposedly had replastered (unfortunately, it had not been and would have cost $6,000 to redo) and the roof, of which we needed a whole new one! We went back and asked for the $10,000 to re-roof a brand new house priced at the top of the market for the area. This afternoon they told us no way. We walked away.

To say we are crushed is an understatement. We had fallen in love with both houses. And now we have no home and no prospective home. To the greedy grinch house flippers of the world, I say bah-hum-bug! Do things the right way and make the house safe, then add some nice touches to it. Do a good job and people will pay you top dollar for the houses you rehab.

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Citrus tree at the first house. I love how it just popped out of the cement near the pool.

I honestly don’t know what we are going to do now. Retreat. Lick our wounds. Figure out a game plan. Head back out into the fray. There just seems to be nothing we like anywhere in the area we would like to be in (and it’s a rather large area). It’s discouraging, but I do believe we will be in the right place for us. I just hope it’s sooner rather than later. Send us some good vibes and let me know in the comments below if you have a really insane house buying story. I could use some commiseration or a good laugh right about now.

And now for some food business…

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Peach crostada with an oat crumble. Eagerly awaiting peach season.

I’m looking forward to getting back into teaching some cooking classes, probably in the middle of the new year. I’m currently working on the curriculum for the classes. Every class I teach I learn something more I want to expand on or add or edit out.

I am searching for a great location to teach the classes, so let me know if you know of a great space or see anything while out and about.

I have also started to freelance again. The goal was always to get back into writing more, and now writing seems to fit into my schedule a little better than baking full-time.

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Lemon curd handpies. We teach handpies in our Pie Perfection class.

You may notice that everything on the Pistol Whipped Pastry website, with the exception of some apparel items, are listed as sold out. Since we just had a baby, and it’s her first Christmas, I am taking a break for the holidays. We will be updating the website with some old favorites, new products, and some new branding (woot woot!) come February.

Lets leave this kind of sad post on a happy note, and feel free to comment below with any of your holiday baking questions. I will be more than happy to take a little time in another post to try to answer and help you all out with your holiday baking projects.

Before we go, you should definitely go check out the interview I did recently with my friend Marlee for her blog, I Just Make Sandwiches, where I answer baking questions from her readers.

Lastly, send us some love and cross your fingers we find the right house soon, as I desperately need to have my own kitchen again. Bakers gotta bake. Am I right?

 

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The Great Granola Bar Shipment

GranolaBars

 

It’s been a crazy week. We made, hand cut, wrapped, and labeled 6,300 granola bar samples. I am ever the optimist when putting together a project, but unfortunately, I grossly miscalculated how much time it would take to put this project together. Luckily, I have some amazing friends and a fantastic husband who all pitched in to help get the job done.

As we placed the last label and packed the last box, I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders. I reveled in crossing the finish line by our new fire pit with a glass of wine, caramelized onion chicken breast, sautéed kale, fingerling potatoes and Mr. PC, before allowing the flood of new tasks lining up for this current week to infiltrate my mind.

GranolaBarsPacked

This is by far the largest order we have had, and yet when we are bogged down, we stray more to meals that are simple and fast. Usually a quick pop into a favorite restaurant or a jar of my family’s sauce that I’ve stocked up in the freezer tossed with some pasta and maybe a little protein and parm.

However, once we had finished, we turned our minds towards food. I wanted to sleep, and yet jump into my home kitchen and start making meals again. Meals I could linger over while sipping wine, nibbling on bits of veg while I chopped and tossed onto the pan for roasting.

PreppingAlmonds

In the interim, until I could get dinner on the table, we need something to snack on with our wine (for me) and bourbon – High West – with an ice sphere (for Mr. PC). Behold, a bulk bag of raw almonds and a garden lush with fresh rosemary. Massaged with a little olive oil, sprinkled with Maldon sea salt, and roasted till toasty. The perfect fireside snack, it is silly simple, but it was such a perfect nibble.

I love insanely thoughtful, simple, and delicious bar food, and these nuts are exactly what I want to graze on while have a leisurely drink by the fire with my hubs.

RosemaryRoastedAlmonds

Now, all I want to do is read the box of cookbooks that arrived on my doorstep in the middle of the great granola bar shipment, while eating roasted almonds.

Print

Salted Rosemary Roasted Almonds

Rachel Ellrich Miller

Ingredients:

1 1/2 # Almonds, Raw & Whole
2 TBSP. Olive Oil
3 Sprigs Rosemary, Fresh
Maldon Sea Salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place almonds on a parchment lined sheet pan. Massage olive oil and rosemary (remove the leaves from the stem by holding the top in one hand and sliding your hand down the stem with the other hand) into almonds, coating all throughly. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Roast for 10 minutes, pushing nuts around, and rotating pan. Then roast for another 5-10 minutes, until slightly darker and slightly golden inside.

Remove and cool. Pile into a bowl and serve warm with your cocktail or adult beverage of choice.

 

Seashells and Sand-Reckoner by the Seashore

Beach1

There is something about the beach that makes you want to write bad poetry about waves being metaphors for life, have a clam bake, and drink copious amounts of wine or coffee while plucking up seashells. The sound of water and gulls, the smell of sweet salty air, the waves crashing and rolling up to engulf your feet and the sand squishing between your toes.

I’m not a sun-worshiper. Being fair and freckled doesn’t make for good sunning. But hitting the beach at the tail-end of the season, is perfect. Less crowds, cooler weather, lots of long walks on the beach with Mr. PC, seashell hunting, and tumblers of wine sipped sitting in the sand, watching the water.

photo 7

Mr. PC signed us up for his family vacation to Corolla, North Carolina on Duck Island. In past years, when his aunt and uncle rent a beach house for a week, we have been unable to attend. This year, knowing my business is picking up and that he has some big projects that will prevent us from traveling, we made the trek to the east coast.

Beachcollage1

I baked a bit on this trip, stowing away a baking pan, scale, measuring spoons and microplane in my luggage. Cinnamon rolls, a German chocolate cake, and pineapple mojitos. It’s actually a lot of fun to go into a kitchen and not know what is in there, and then figure out how to make what you need without the typical tools. Some of the best restaurants or coffee shops I’ve worked at have been those that don’t have large budgets and where we have to get creative when it comes to tools or baking vessels. It pushes you to be inventive.

Everyone contributed a little. Paella was whipped up one night, someone brought BBQ from a restaurant in Memphis, others picked up pizzas and champagne. As each bottle of alcohol was emptied, they were placed up on window ledge in the living room, over the sliding doors – a remembrance to the good times had by all while partaking.

beachcollage3

Mostly, this trip let me recharge a little. I read magazines and cookbooks. Daydreamed new pastry and cooking class ideas. Walked on the beach with my hubby. Drank (we brought Sand-Reckoner, Pillsbury, Dos Cabezas, and Arizona Distilling Co. with us, so everyone could try some Arizona goodies. Well, and some Pistol Whipped Pastry of course!) and ate a massive meal of clam chowder, shrimp, and crab cakes. Slept. Climbed to the top of an old lighthouse. Realized after said climb what poor shape we are in. It was just the break we needed before coming home and diving into work.

beachcollage2

On this trip I met Mr. PC’s extended family. His cousins and their families were unable to make it to our wedding. Completely understandable, since everyone has busy lives and with a country between us, it can be challenging for all of us to get together. I was happy to finally meet everyone and have the opportunity to get to know his aunt, uncle and cousins better.

At the end of our journey, we ate the best soft pretzel and mustard (Lusty Monk) we’ve ever had at a brewery called Weeping Radish on the road back to Norfolk, Virgina. Unbeknownst to me, Mr. PC stashed a portion cup of the mustard into our carry on, which I found when unpacking later that night.

photo 9

Now we are home and the weather is becoming beautiful again here in Phoenix. Our suitcases are still laying on the floor half unpacked. My seashell collection is stilled wrapped in Mr. PC’s tshirts and stuffed inside the alcohol travel tubes. Mr. PC is busy with work, and I am knee-deep in lots of Pistol Whipped Pastry plans. The beach was fun, but back to the grind of work and life. It helps that I also have a case of Lusty Monk mustard coming our way. And I am still finding sand everywhere, even in the pockets of my favorite hoodie.

 

Daydream Monday, anyone?

PWPplums

 

Summers in Arizona for restaurants and bakeries or any hospitality business here is slow. Super slow. I assumed this would give me time to relax, daydream, and plan for the upcoming season. Yeah, not so much. I have been consistently busy planning and plotting with the odd job here and there, that I feel like I haven’t been able to spend much time playing with all my new ideas.

Mondays are my creative days. Well, I do office work too, but I give myself space to write recipes, test recipes, and flip through my cookbooks and mags that are piling up on my desk, and finally organize the bobs and bits around my messy office.

Daydream Mondays allow for endless cups of coffee, slices of leftover dark chocolate cake for lunch, and wine time arriving whenever the day demands and permits. Bowls of sweet plum slices for snack while catching up on emails or sorting through boxes of baking tools that will be used and abused this upcoming season. I don’t have to be anywhere or have to meet any deadlines. The day takes shape however I need it to, plus it’s alone time in my home office and kitchen to be by myself.

It’s simple and not the break I had hoped for, but the business is growing and starting to find its shape, and I am so grateful for this progress.

PWPWSArtisanMarket

Thanks to everyone who came out on Saturday to Williams-Sonoma Biltmore for the Artisan Market. We love being able to do these events and spread the word about what we are doing at Pistol Whipped Pastry.

Happy Monday, friends!

 

Rachel Ellrich Miller is a pastry chef and food writer in Phoenix, where she bakes, eats, hangs out with her amazing husband, Mr. PC, and drinks copious amounts of Arizona wine. You can get more information about her pastry at http://www.pistolwhippedpastry.com, or her Sugar Rush column on Phoenix New Times Chow Bella blog.

A Willcox Weekend

WillcoxSunset2

Mr. PC and I are in love with Willcox, Arizona. The land stretches forever in every direction, with farms and vineyards lining the roads. People are kind, waving to us, even though they have never seen us and may never see us again. The main drag of downtown is slowly being revitalized with wine tasting rooms, and hopefully restaurants will follow.

The purpose of our trip was a going away party for our friend Simona. She has an amazing career as a wine maker, venturing around the world to different wineries, helping through the entire wine making process. We met Simona a few months ago when we went to Willcox to help our friends at Sand-Reckoner plant some vines (see story here).

SmoresBar

We brought a dessert bar with dark chocolate cupcakes topped with vanilla buttercream, a s’mores station (Simona had her first s’more and while a little too sweet for her, she did enjoy it), bourbon coconut rice pudding, and mason jars of lemon posset.

DessertBar

As everyone arrived at the Pillsbury Wine Company tasting room, a variety of dishes filled the table and full bottles of wine collected on the bar. There wasn’t a bad bit of food in the place. Citrus salad, grain salad, peaches baked with goat cheese, baked squash, marinated steak tacos, and Simona’s veggie lasagna.

CitrusSalad

 

RoastedPeaches

 

GrainSalad

Everyone sat outside eating, drinking wine, talking and watching the rain storms roll overhead. A beautiful weekend with lovely people.

WillcoxSunset

If you have the chance, get down to Willcox wine country and taste the beautiful wines they are making.

Simona, we will miss you! Safe travels on your next journey! xo

Rachel Ellrich Miller is a pastry chef and food writer in Phoenix, where she bakes, eats, hangs out with her amazing husband, Mr. PC, and drinks copious amounts of Arizona wine. You can get more information about her pastry at http://www.pistolwhippedpastry.com, or her Sugar Rush column on Phoenix New Times Chow Bella blog.

 

Soaked Oats

SoakedOatsFinished

 

My husband, Mr. PC, came home from work and announced that he would be participating in a lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks competition at work. I’ll admit that my first thought was “ughhhhhhhh!” We do really need to up our fitness game (from non-existent to actually doing some sort of physical activity), but honestly, like most people, we often find it challenging to find the time with our busy schedules.

Plus, we love good food, cocktails and wine, and often treat meals like great events, eating to our hearts content. The eating out or quick meals during the fast pace of the week often catch up to us with a snugging of our pants.

I love trying out new (or new to me) ideas that I feel will make my life a little healthier and a little easier. Enter this concept of soaked oats. I’ve been reading a lot about sprouting and soaking grains to make them more digestible, which also allows for the nutrients to be better absorbed by the body. I’ve heard a lot about overnight soaking of oats (hello muesli) and have always wondered if soaked oats taste better than the regular cooked version. Answer: yes!

However, I am not into eating them cold. I just can’t get around the texture and temp combo. So, I do reheat my oats. I love that it makes a hearty, re-heatable breakfast that can be easily transported, and doesn’t have any preservatives. When I eat a breakfast like this, I don’t find myself snacking as much during the day.

I make a batch at the beginning of the week, stored in mason jars in the fridge, they are easy to pull for breakfast on the go (for me), or for Mr. PC to take to work.

I soak the oats overnight with water and organic (no-sugar added) apple juice. Reheated in the morning with a couple splashes of milk, then portioned out into jars, and stored in fridge. I reheat my oats each mornings with a bit more milk (use homemade almond milk, which is amazing), add in a touch of brown sugar or some homemade jam, nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, a bit of quinoa leftover from dinner, coconut milk…options are endless.

Perhaps this will help until I can get back on that running regime.

Oats after soaking for 6 hours.
Oats after soaking for 6 hours.
Print

Soaked Oats

Rachel Ellrich Miller

Ingredients:

2 cups Apple Juice, Organic & No-Sugar Added
2 cups Water, Filtered
2 cups Rolled Oats, Organic (and if needed Gluten Free)
A pinch of Salt
1/4 - 1/2 cup Whole Milk, Organic (or Homemade Almond Milk)

If desired, you can add a multitude of items, here are some that we often add-in.
3 TBSP Wheat Bran (omit if Gluten Free)
1 tsp. Cinnamon, Ground
Handful of Cashews or Walnuts, Chopped
Handful of Dried Cherries or Dried Cranberries
Nut Butters
Hemp Seeds
Homemade Jam
Honey
Brown Sugar
Leftover Quinoa (I know this sounds odd, but with some raisins and a splash of milk, it's delicious!)

Directions:

In a large pot, bring water, apple juice and pinch of salt to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in oats. Cover and allow to sit overnight. (I don't refrigerate mine, but if it freaks you out to leave it at room temp, you can refrigerate.)

The next morning, heat up the oaks with 1/4 - 1/2 cup milk (or almond milk) (You can also, just portion into jars, and not reheat - this is how they are traditionally eaten, but I am not a fan of the texture/temp combination). Portion into containers (we use glass canning jars with the plastic BPA free lids) and stir in extras. Store in the fridge. Eat cold or reheat.

 

I store our oats in glass mason jars, ready to grab and go.
I store our oats in glass mason jars, ready to grab and go.

 

Rachel Ellrich Miller is a pastry chef and food writer in Phoenix, where she bakes, eats, hangs out with her amazing husband, Mr. PC, and drinks copious amounts of Arizona wine. You can get more information about her pastry at http://www.pistolwhippedpastry.com, or her Sugar Rush column on Phoenix New Times Chow Bella blog.

Wedding, House, And Building The Business

Dessert from our mini moon at Bourbon Steak.
Dessert from our mini moon at Bourbon Steak.

I married my love, Mr. PC. We tied the knot just over two months ago in a sunset ceremony surrounded by our family and close friends. While it was a beautiful day, we are still exhausted and attempting to recover.

I wish I could have spent more time with family and friends that came in from out of town. Everything went so quickly and the wedding day was a blur of hugs and quick conversations. I don’t feel like I was able to talk to everyone enough. Happily, I was able to at least speak with everyone who attended, but for me, it wasn’t enough. Now they are all home, we are moderately recovered, and I wish we had more time with our families and friends. Check out the lovely armadillo cake one of my best girlfriends made me over at my Sugar Rush column on Chow Bella.

Even though I was not allowed to make my own wedding cake, I still represented Pistol Whipped Pastry with some tasty cupcake treats for my family and friends to take with them as well as a dessert table at the rehearsal dinner. I wanted to give my out of town guests something from my bakery, plus, I love doing orders for dessert tables or dessert favors for weddings, and my wedding was no exception.

Cupcakes from our wedding.
Cupcakes from our wedding.

Of course, there is always drama when you put many different opinions into one space. I have chosen NOT to change my name at the present time. I like my name. I have a business and a career built on my name. Never did I think that it would matter to me, to change my name, until a couple months ago, when someone asked me if I was practicing signing my new name. I hemmed and hawed, caught off-guard at how much I didn’t want to change it. This has been my name for 31 years. I’m not ready to part with it just yet.

When we went to sign the marriage certificate after the wedding, the venerable female reverend told me that I HAD to change my name, because legally, my name is now that of my husband, and I could get into serious trouble with the law if caught with my maiden name on my license and social security card. My photographer frantically waved her hands and shook her head no behind the silver-haired reverend. It’s a great story to tell, and I eagerly wait being arrested by the police for not using my married name.

We hit the ground running after the wedding. Pistol Whipped Pastry is taking off and I am thrilled. Crazy busy. Somedays, I wish I could clone myself, but I am really excited about all the progress. We are booking events left and right, and I am getting to work with so many amazing people. Check out the new line of gluten free pastries I am doing at Kaleidoscope Juice. I’m writing for some fabulous publications, and being extended some amazing writing opportunities that I can not wait to share with you all.We bought a house in December, you know, because we haven’t done enough this year, yet. Life is good.

The recovery process after a wedding seems to involve the regaining of one’s appetite. I feel like I didn’t eat for about a month prior and during the wedding. My trainer was amazed at how quickly I was losing weight. “No appetite,” was not her favorite response. However, we are making up for it now, by eating good food.

It’s like I hit Suzie Homemaker mode this weekend, roasting a chicken, then making stock from the remains. Homemade chicken soup. Apples for applesauce gurgling away in cider on the stove. The windows opened. Prepping dinners for the week. It was the first time in a couple weeks I had cooked a homemade meal, and it was fully relaxing. As much as I love the precision and measurements of pastry, I equally love the dash-here-and-pinch-there of savory cooking as well.

Chicken soup, pink lady applesauce, and new wine glasses.
Chicken soup, pink lady applesauce, and new wine glasses.

I make chicken stock quite a bit, since I typically roast a chicken about every other week. I throw the whole chicken carcass into the stock pot, fill with water till just covered. Add a couple chopped carrots, some celery, an onion, a bay leaf, salt and pepper, and simmer for about 4 hours. Make sure to skim off and discard the foam as it collects on the surface.

I strain my stock through cheesecloth or a fine mesh sieve. Store in deli containers in the freezer for use whenever needed.

With the proliferation of kale and other hearty leafy greens popping up from our local farmers, I have been chopping and tossing those greens in near the end of the soup making process.

Our new house is perfect. It’s exactly the amount of space we needed and in a great area, that is up-and-coming. I finally have a dedicated office to house my books, Pistol Whipped Pastry gear, and all the great photography gear & props I have been collecting.

I am loving the blank slate that is before me, daydreaming up how I want to decorate. I have already procured some paint samples, and have a pinterest board full of creative DIY ideas of how I want to organize and create my perfect workspace.

Over the next month I will be working on putting together my office space, and sharing it with you here. The challenge I am facing is the need for a lot of storage, but I don’t want it to look like I work in a storage room or a closet. With a growing collection of cookbooks and vintage cake stands, I want to be able to display them, but not feel overwhelmed in the small space.

OfficeBefore

I guess it’s time to open a bottle of wine and start painting the walls. Do people have such things as painting parties? Hmmm…

Caramelized Onions and Quiche

I went through a phase a few years ago where I was obsessed with caramelized onions. I made them everyday to eat on thick toasted slices of bread I was testing, tossed with pasta and goat cheese, or with my morning eggs. They were sweet, charred, and with a dash of salt, perfect on just about anything. Due to some comments from friends and my sister, I am pretty sure that my house, as well as my person, were pretty pungent, but I didn’t care. I love the smell. It was comforting to come home and have the scent of onion perfuming the air.

caramelizedonions
Finished, caramelized onions.

Working as a pastry chef can be challenging at times, to keep your creativity fresh. I read everything I can get my hands on, taste the work of other chefs, travel to new towns to see what is happening in their food scene, scour the internet for new techniques and back myself against a wall, to force myself to come up with new ideas and methods.

Some days, I go back to my favorites. Hunting for new scone flavor variations the other day, I wandered around the kitchen. I scoured the walk-in, the freezer, dry storage. That is when I saw the onions. As freshly baked bacon wafted through the air, I started to piece together a new scone flavor. It is simple, but caramelized onions, bacon and cheese scones are one of my biggest sellers, so apparently others feel the familiar tug of comforting flavors too.

choppingonions
Chopped onions.

I hadn’t made caramelized onions in a long time and once I started at work, I couldn’t seem to stop. Zipping to the market after work, I filled my basket with onions and headed home to continue my caramelized project.

Pale onions, on their way to being caramelized.
Pale onions, on their way to being caramelized.

One of my favorite ways to eat caramelized onions is in quiche. Silky custard of eggs and milk, flaky pie crust and all the little bits and pieces you have left over in the fridge, tossed into the mix. I keep a pie crust rolled out in a pie plate in the freezer at all times. It is my quickie dinner when I just don’t feel like assembling a full meal. I mix up the egg and milk (or cream if you are feeling dangerous), toss in the bits and bobbles I can find. Pop it in the oven for about 45 min-1 hour. While it bakes, I toss together a small salad, and pour glasses of wine. It’s simple, like the caramelized onions, but it’s comfortable.

finishedquiche

As Mr. Paul Child walked in the door, mid-caramelized onion sautéing on the stove, the first words out of his mouth were “Ohhhh! What smells so good in here?” I knew I was marrying the right man.

dinner

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Caramelized Onions and Quiche

Rachel Ellrich Miller

Ingredients:

For the Caramelized Onions:
2 large onions (any variety that you like)
A couple tbsp good olive oil
A pinch of salt

For the Quiche:
Pie crust in a 9.5" or 10" pie plate; chill very well (or keep in the freezer like I do)
7-8 eggs
1/2 cup milk (you can also use all cream or half milk, half cream)
Various odds and ends (I used zucchini, red pepper, teleme cheese, caramelized onions and bacon)
Salt and Pepper

Directions:

For the caramelized onions:
Heat a sautee pan over medium heat. Pour in a couple tablespoons of good olive oil. You want to keep the onions from sticking to the pan, you do not want your onions drowning in oil. Toss in your onions. This process will take a bit, so be patient. Allow the onions to sweat, stir occasionally. The onions will start to color. When they do, try not to move them around too much. You do want to move the onions, to allow the color to cover all the onions, but you also want them to color, and moving them around a lot will not allow them to get nice and caramelized. If you like a paler caramelization, take them off at your preference.

Quiche:
Whisk egg and milk together. Toss all your odds and ends in the frozen pie crust. Pour your egg mixture over.Pop in the oven at 350 degrees for 45minutes to an hour. Basically, it should not be jiggly in the middle and golden brown on top. I always end up covering the top with aluminum foil near the end, to keep the top from over browning.

Serve with side salad and a glass of Arizona Sand Reckoner white for a perfect summer evening.

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