Friday, June 14, 2013

Spinach Pie

by Ann

When quiche is available on a restaurant's menu I am often tempted to order it.  It's easy to make but I don't prepare it often at home because my husband isn't a huge fan. (Perhaps he's still remembering what someone said about real men not eating quiche years ago....)

When I saw this recipe in the newspaper for "White House Spinach Pie" being credited to Michelle Obama and her Victory Garden I thought it would be delicious and healthy.  Well, the delicious part was certainly true, but with three quarters of a pound of cheese, a cup of half and half, and a rich pastry dough, I am questioning the healthy concept.  On the other hand, there is a full pound of spinach involved, which is A LOT of vitamin-and-mineral-packed greens.

I have never combined feta and Swiss cheese in a quiche before, so was intrigued to try it out.  The feta definitely came through, as did the lemon zest giving it a bright, fresh flavor.  The recipe did not call for pre-baking the pie shell, which seems wrong to me.  Who wants a soggy crust?  I took the liberty to change that, and the steps to pre-bake a crust can be seen in my January 8 post (click here to see).

Since we're discussing pie crusts, I want to reiterate something I said in the above mentioned previous post.  If you buy refrigerated pie crust, do NOT cheap-out (as I learned the hard way) and buy the store brand.  Pillsbury's formula is somehow far superior to the generic versions.

The steps to make the Spinach Pie are the same as a quiche.  The spinach must be wilted and any excess moisture removed before the remaining ingredients are added.
Pictured above is only about half of the spinach.  I had to do it in two "rounds" to get the full pound cooked.

Pictured here is the feta cheese added to the spinach that has been squeezed dry with paper towels.  Be sure that the spinach is cool enough that the cheese doesn't melt.  I used a very large frying pan in which to add all ingredients together.

Half of the Swiss cheese is sprinkled on the top of the mixture; the other half is blended in.
Bake until the middle is not longer "giggly."

White House Spinach Pie


1 9-inch pie shell, partially baked

2 T olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 pound fresh, washed spinach
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 large eggs, beaten
1 c half and half (or you can use whole or 2% milk)
1 t grated lemon zest
1 t fresh chopped thyme leaves (or ¼ t dried)
4-6 oz feta cheese
8 oz swiss cheese, grated


Partially bake the piecrust according to package directions with the pie plate placed on a cookie sheet.  (450 degrees for 10 minutes if using Pillsbury.  Be sure to use pie weights to avoid having the bottom puff up during this process.)

While shell is prebaking, in a large skillet, drizzle the olive oil and heat on medium until heated.  Add the garlic and onion and sauté until translucent (5-7 minutes), making sure that the garlic does not burn.

Add spinach, a little at a time and cook until wilted.  Season with salt and pepper; set aside to cool slightly.

Take the pie shell out of the oven and turn the temperature down to 375.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and half and half; add lemon zest and thyme.  Add cooled spinach mixture, feta and half of the Swiss cheese, and mix until well combined.  Taste to see if additional salt or pepper needs to be added.

Pour carefully into prepared crust and sprinkle remaining Swiss cheese on top.

Bake for 40 minutes until the center is set.  Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Delicious any time of the day!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Home Away From Home

by Sheila

As you may know, we have recently changed our blog post schedule.  On Wednesdays, I am going to cover a variety of topics such as travel, diy projects, entertaining, and other ideas that support my frugal nature.  Thanks for reading us - we appreciate your interest and hope we can provide some inspiration, motivation or food for thought for living life well.

As for travel...

There are many options today for travelers looking for a place to rest their heads at night.  We have been traveling around Ireland and Scotland recently and by far our best accommodations have come from  private owners who are renting their space to travelers.  This is not a new concept, but the internet has made this very easy to do.  Websites such as Home Away, VRBO and airbnb are a few of the more popular ones, and worth checking out if you are taking a trip and need accommodations.  

For the next several nights we are in Edinburgh, Scotland and have rented a charming, fully furnished penthouse apartment in the perfect location 2 blocks from the Royal Mile with city and sea views.  We are expecting my sister-in-law and her husband to join us tomorrow, so the 2 bedroom, 2 bath option suited us perfectly.  We were rather lax in our travel plans and my husband just e-mailed the owner this morning regarding availability.  She got right back to us and offered us a great rate.  If you are traveling here, check out her website at

Katie (the owner) met us here to exchange keys and answer questions.  She was very friendly and professional.  As is typical in these types of accommodations, there is a full kitchen, laundry (we really needed this!) a detailed guest book highlighting points of interest in the area, as well as a library of videos, books and wifi access.  A designated parking space is also provided at no additional charge; another savings since many hotels add a significant fee per day to park.  

We have utilized this option with our kids in an apartment in New York City, on a trip with friends to Sante Fe (Ann & Pat!), and for a large beach house for the family in San Diego, to name a few.  Our experience has been that it is more cost effective when you have 2 or more couples involved, or a family that would need more than one hotel room, but even for the two of us it is often competitive with hotels.  If you want maid service daily and room service on call, this is not for you.  We have only been disappointed once, and we contacted the owner and had our money refunded immediately.  In this case, the cleaning crew was not doing their job and he was not aware of it.  If you think this might work for you, check the reviews from other travelers on the websites, and feel free to ask the owners if you have special requests.  They might have a bicycle available, or be able to provide a highchair for a toddler.

We like this  type of accommodation so much that we are preparing to run a vacation rental ourselves - a new venture for us.  This is an especially great option for people who have a vacation home and want to offset the costs.  I'll keep you posted on the pros and cons and the process as I move forward with this plan.

So if you want to rent a flat, a large home, a sailboat or a castle, you'll find it available on these websites.  Happy Wandering, and as they say here in Scotland, "Cheers"!  

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Summer Birds

by Heather

So, I'm two weeks into retirement and I've managed to clean out two closets and four cupboards. Haven't accomplished much, have I? I keep thinking that I'm on vacation and I haven't quite adjusted to the fact that it's a permanent holiday. I've had a job of some sort or another since the age of fifteen, so this might take some getting used to.

I have a list of things I want to accomplish during this retirement phase. Zumba and dance classes start tomorrow so I'm getting started on my goal of getting in shape. Hubby and I are reading the book "How to Play Popular Piano in 10 Easy Lessons" so maybe by next week, I'll be a piano virtuoso. Can I do that without practicing? We might need to give in and actually take piano lessons.

And what does one wear when one is not going to work? I thought this might be a good Monday look: sunny, casual, and comfortable.
Anthropologie top; Loft white jeans
Ann Taylor yellow and white bracelets; BCBG yellow ring; Michael Kors white ceramic watch
Vince Camuto white wedges; Coach grey and yellow purse
Ann Taylor white and yellow earrings
Brina Box necklace

High school friend, Candace, is keeping in touch with me (long distance -- she's in Portland, OR) to see what or who I become when there are no outside forces dictating each hour of the day. This could be interesting... We're meeting up next month to "do" Portland and the Oregon coast. Can't wait!

Have a wonderful week and don't work too hard :)