Tomato and Goat Cheese Quiche

We are approaching the last weeks of summer and the weather is changing. We have had a few rainy days and in the air there is a feeling of cooler days ahead. I always remember that the middle of August was the start of cooler nights in Toronto. That said, we are still enjoying our wonderful city and the summer days.

When I am not out training for my walk and run I have been working on building a new website. I had forgotten how much work it was to create a special showcase for your work. Stay tuned for the go-live. I have also done some travelling that I will feature in my next post.

In addition, I have been touring many of Toronto’s markets and local eateries.Even though I live a big city our local farmers markets are a good source of fresh organic produce from the surrounding area.

I love the abundance of the seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables. One of my favourite things in August is the taste of a fresh picked tomato off of the vine. I have been growing my own herbs but not any vegetables although some of my high-rise neighbours grow cherry tomatoes on the their balconies and patios with great success.

This recipe for tomato and goat cheese quiche makes a great dish for brunch or lunch that is packed with flavour.

Tomato and Goat Cheese Quiche

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 branches of cherry tomatoes on the vine
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. (5 ml) thyme leaves
Salt and pepper
4 large eggs
½ cup (125 ml) heavy cream
2 tbsp. (30 ml) oregano leaves
8 oz. (250 g) soft goat cheese

Directions
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry large enough to line the bottom and sides of an 11 x 5 inch (28×12 cm) rectangular tart pan. Gently press the pastry into the pan and trim the edges. Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Chill for at least 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Bake the tart shell for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.
Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). On a small baking sheet drizzle the tomatoes on the vine with the olive oil. Sprinkle with the garlic, sugar, thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Roast until the tomatoes are slightly blistered, about 18-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool while you make the custard.
Whisk together the eggs, cream, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Break the goat cheese into pieces and scatter over the tart shell. Carefully place the tomatoes in the tart shell. Pour the egg mixture over the cheese and tomatoes.
Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C). bake the quiche until the filling is set and the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes. Trim the edges if desired, remove quiche from the pan, cut into portions.

Recipe from Pitchin’ In by Lynn Crawford

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Bocconcini, Quinoa and Oregano Salad for a healthy life

“When your life flashes before your eyes, make sure you’ve got plenty to watch.” Anonymous

Spring is about new awakenings. Trees and flowers wake up from a long winter’s rest to bloom and grow, filling the landscape with rich hues and fragrant aromas. Animals and birds begin to show themselves to the world after a period of hiding or a long migration north. People who have spent their winter indoors are now outside enjoying the warm weather. They have turned off their TV sets and have taken their exercise routines out of the gym and onto the playing fields and streets.

Each day of this spring has been an awakening for me. My new healthy lifestyle has contributed to a fresh outlook and renewed confidence, but it is more than that. I realize that I have been holding back from making things happen out of fear of failing. I have started to look at my life differently and feel more confident that I can shape my future to what I want it to be.

I understand that if I can see my goals, I can reach them. Instead of just saying what I want to do with the rest of my life, I am going to stop talking; I am going to put my words into action. My close friend, coach and mentor tells me that a plan for a successful, meaningful life is:

”Say It, Mean It, Do It”.

I plan to use this motto to guide me.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to sound like a motivational speaker and I don’t expect the road to my goals to be smooth or easy. It is bound to be full of bumps, falls and possible road blocks. I have already fallen off of the bike once and will likely fall again before I am good at this. I also understand that you cannot be successful without first getting uncomfortable. That is why I have been pushing myself out of my comfort zone in all aspects of my life, be it physical, emotional, creative or mental. I will report back on my progress when I have been on this journey a little longer and can provide evidence of the positive change that I am beginning to experience.

“Action is the foundational key to all success.” Pablo Picasso

This Bocconcini, Quinoa and Oregano Salad is a good source of protein and vitamins. It makes a nice main course for lunch or dinner or a tasty side dish with grilled fish or meat.  I am really enjoying the Quinoa 365 cookbook for its versatile and inspiring recipes.

Bocconcini, Quinoa  and Oregano Salad

Ingredients

¾ cup quinoa
1½ cups water
1 cup diced zucchini
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup diced red onion
½ frozen baby green peas, thawed
1 cup diced red bell pepper
½ cup diced yellow bell pepper
3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 tsp. fresh garlic, minced
Pinch salt
Pinch ground black pepper
1 cup mini bocconcini cheese pieces, halved

Directions

Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for another 4 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork. Set aside to completely cool.

Combine the zucchini, tomatoes, onion, peas and red and yellow pepper in a large bowl.

Whisk the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and thoroughly mix all the ingredients. Add the quinoa and boccocini and mix until evenly combined. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Recipe from Quinoa 365 by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming

Fusilli with Grilled Chicken and Asiago-A Celebration of Italy

I love to travel! When I travel, I love to soak up the local culture, taste the local cuisine and learn about the history, art and architecture. One of my favourite places in the world for great art and architecture is Rome.

This city is rich with history and full of life. Last time I was there I did a night walk through central Rome. We started with a delicious dinner of pasta and wine in Campo de Fiori. After dinner we walked up to Piazza Navona and wandered through the market. I love the architecture in the Piazza and the feeling of excitement.  People were gathering in the streets to enjoy the night and to spend time with their friends. The cafes were filled with groups of friends enjoying meals, conversation and good times together.

After Piazza Navona we walked to the Spanish Steps and then wandered the streets toward the historic Pantheon. Across from the Pantheon there is an amazing place that has dozens of flavours of fresh gelato. We treated ourselves to a cup of this rich, creamy dessert as we continued our walk to the final destination; the Trevi Fountain. Whenever I see the Trevi Fountain, I always toss in a coin and make a wish that I will return to Rome again someday.

I highly recommend this night walk as way to see this exciting city at night. Rome is so lively and the Roman people all love to come out at night to play.

In memory of my travels to Italy I have decided to make the month of March a celebration of Italian food. This pasta recipe is in memory of the meal that we had that night in Rome.

Buon Appetito!

Fusilli with Grilled Chicken and Asiago Cheese

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

1 lb. fusilli pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
1 cup grilled chicken breast, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup diced yellow peppers
1 cup grated Asiago cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 8-10 minutes. Drain pasta and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes and peppers and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add chicken and cook about 2 more minutes, until chicken is  heated  through. Add the cooked pasta, cheese, and toss to combine. Sprinkle with chopped basil, salt and pepper.

Transfer the pasta to a serving plate and sprinkle with a little more parmesan cheese