Mushroom Bacon Frittata

Originally, I intended to make the Frittata with Tuna and Tomatoes out of Giada de Laurentiis’ cookbook, “Giada’s Feel Good Food.” It is a very health-focused, easy-to-follow cookbook with gorgeous photography. But I don’t like tomatoes, generally, unless they are in sauce form. And although I love tuna, I’m not sure it sounds like a great pairing with eggs. So I dug around my fridge for a few substitutes, and came up with mushrooms, which both J and I love, and leftover bacon from yesterday’s breakfast.

Mushroom Bacon Frittata

8 eggs

1/4 cup milk (the original recipe calls for whole milk. I used skim milk and added a little extra butter to make up for it)

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

5-6 pieces of cooked bacon, roughly chopped

1 cup mushrooms, roughly chopped

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Prep and Cook time: ~25 minutes

Servings: 6

Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the milk, parsley, salt and pepper and whisk again. Add in the mushrooms and stir thoroughly.

Melt the olive oil and butter in a large, oven safe skillet on the stove over medium high heat (a 7 on my electric stove). All of my normal pans/skillets have rubber handles and are not oven safe, so I ended up using my oven safe wok. The shape of the frittata ended up a little weird, but it didn’t change the cooking time.

Pour the egg and mushroom mixture into the pan and let it cook, WITHOUT stirring, for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the bacon and cheese on top, let cook without stirring for another 3-5 minutes. Then put the pan in the 400 degree oven for about 8-10 minutes. This will get the inside cooked through without burning the edges. When it is done in the oven, loosen the edges of the frittata with a spatula, and it should slide right out of the pan for you. Cut into wedges and serve!

J and I both really liked this (he said “Thank you for breakfast! Well, dinner. Both!”) and it was just so EASY. I can’t believe I haven’t made one before. And the beauty of it, is that you really can put anything you want in it. If you’re looking for something vegetarian, use mushrooms and spinach instead of bacon. Or go with the tuna and tomato combo from the original recipe. Or get spicy and add hot peppers and onions. The diversity of the dish makes it a good go-to dinner for someone with not a lot of time on their hands.

I had grand ambitions today to go on an organizing spree, and bake, and catch up on some studying. Instead I started out my day with energy, then was suddenly hit with an awful, depressed, grumpy mood. This isn’t unusual in and of itself, its just that I’m never sure when it will hit. This past week was very good – I got to go help Boo, J and I spent some great, fun quality time together, I relaxed and had some “me time” yesterday with my DVR. I’m super excited about our Valentine’s Day plans – going on a double date to a charity raffle dinner / dance. I have an interview for my dream job on Tuesday that I am very pumped for.

But, in the back of my mind I’m also thinking about J leaving. He is a state trooper, but he is also in the Guard. When we first moved to PA, I started school and less than a week later he left for the state police academy, which requires cadets to live down in Hershey, PA (far away from us) for six months. He was allowed to come home or have a guest visit every other weekend, and he was allowed to use his cell phone for 30 minutes per night. That was it, no texting, no computer, no freely coming and going. Two months after he graduated and came home, he left again, this time going away for the military for almost seven months. Then he came home and was sent away again for three weeks. Then for another three weeks, with no communication at all. Between early fall of 2012 and late spring 2014, he was home for a collective total of maybe four months. He was gone during almost the first full year of our marriage.

He’s been home for about nine months solid now, and the initial “re-adjustment,” as I started describing it, was extremely difficult. After two different houses and two years of law school essentially living by myself, I had a hard time learning just to share a space again, let alone the learning curve of compromise that comes with the first year of marriage. But we made it through, and late this spring we’ll be celebrating two years of marriage. It doesn’t sound like much, but to us, it’s the product of so much hard work.

Intellectually, I know I’m dreading his next stretch away with the military way more than necessary. It’s only eight weeks. Compared to what we’ve already been through, an almost insignificant amount of time. And at this point in our marriage, we are certainly stronger as a unit that we were the first time he left – emotionally, mentally, and financially. But maybe there’s an ingrained response that I’ve developed, something that triggers depression and stress, when anticipating another period of separation.

He leaves on February 15th. The past couple of days, he has mentioned casually that he wants to go out to dinner a few times before he leaves, that he doesn’t want me to stress too much about meals, and that he would love a few easy dinners that I used to make, back when we first started living together and before I started developing my cooking skills. He knows, without us having to discuss it, that I’m stressed at his impending departure. I know he wants me to handle these negative feelings by being in the moment when I do spend time with him in this week before he leaves, instead of bottling it all up and hiding out in the kitchen.

So this frittata was my first attempt this week at doing what he’s been asking me to do, even though he never actually asked. I’m cutting down my kitchen time so I can spend more time with him. But I’m still doing what I want to do, too – experimenting with recipes and finding the best way to express my love for him on a plate. And even though when he’s been gone in the past I’ve let the depression pin me down, that doesn’t mean the same thing has to happen this time. This time we’re stronger, I’m stronger, and my arsenal of culinary equipment is stronger.

Besides, when he’s gone, I’ll be able to eat the WHOLE frittata.

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A Crockpot of Love

Because I had so much homework to do today in preparation for the start of the semester tomorrow, I wanted a crockpot recipe for dinner. I found a great recipe on Pinterest for Chicken Fajitas in the crockpot, and I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t thought of that before. The original recipe can be found on Eat At Home – http://eatathomecooks.com/2012/12/easy-crockpot-chicken-fajitas.html. I made a couple of small changes – I added a can of black beans, and I used McCormick low sodium chicken taco seasoning.

When I pulled it out of the crockpot, I realized that we were out of taco shells (that’s me and my meal-planning-preparedness, for you), so we ended up putting it on top of tortilla chips. And of course, topping it with excessive amounts of shredded sharp cheddar, salsa, and that amazing substance which is known as sour cream. NOMNOMNOM. I would highly recommend this for a busy day when you know you’ll just need to come home and dig into something hearty and tasty. J’s only comment was that next time, he wants jalapenos in his portion. Which I think are gross and way too spicy, so next time he can get that nasty jalapeno juice all over his own hands and on his own plate.  Other than that, he chowed down two huge plates of it and complimented my dinner prowess repeatedly. Another win for the crockpot!

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I have a very close relationship with my crockpot. Two crockpots, actually. J’s grandfather, who passed away a couple of months ago, was visiting us this past summer and I made chicken and gravy in the crockpot to go over homemade biscuits. My crockpot didn’t have a timer, an automatic on/off, a stirrer, or anything else fancy. I ran late coming home one night, and the gravy ended up slightly burnt. Nothing that a good stir with a little milk didn’t fix, but Grandpa got it in his head that I needed a bigger, better, fancier crockpot. So he gave us some money, with strict instructions for me to go find myself the best crockpot I could find. He also told me to keep the first crockpot on standby, because eventually, I’m going to want two at a time.

The next time Grandpa visited – the week before he passed away – I dug out my fancy new crockpot for homemade meatballs. The new crockpot has a ‘keep warm’ setting, an on/off timer, an automatic stirrer, and little latches on the lid. Its quite the thing of beauty. Grandpa raved about the meatballs, and was just pleased as punch that he got me a new, fancy gadget.

Grandpa was my favorite person to cook for. Frequently, as we’d be sitting over dinner, he’d lean over and in a fake stage whisper, tell me that I was a much better cook than J’s mother (who openly admits that she hates cooking, and was very relieved when J married a gal who LIKES to tackle the holiday dinners). When he visited, we’d sit in the living room together while I flipped through my Food Network magazine, and he’d tell me about the different ways his wife, who passed away shortly after I met J, would make green beans or potatoes. Once we decided we wanted to make pralines. Grandpa sat at the kitchen table and looked on, giving me tips and words of encouragement, as I fought with a candy thermometer and tried to get sugar on wax paper without painting my kitchen with it. The pralines didn’t turn out very well, but Grandpa gave me a smile and a pat on the arm and ate them anyway.

His last visit to us was a few weeks before Thanksgiving, and we sat and planned the holiday meal together, making sure to work his special requests into the menu. Grandpa didn’t make it to that meal, and Thanksgiving was a somber occasion at our house. But every time I break out my crockpot, which is often, I think of him and smile. And as I pull whatever delicious dish I’ve whipped up out of that crockpot and give a plate of it to his grandson, I think of what kind of compliment or critique Grandpa would be able to give me. I miss him very much. But every time I cook, I know he’s in the kitchen with me, telling me, again, his favorite way to make green beans.

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