Friday, March 29, 2013

Italian Easter Pie

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Italian Easter Pie is stuffed full of different cheeses and meats. It's an Italian-Catholic tradition to eat this pie at noon on Easter. This time marks the end of Lent, and what better way to celebrate than stuffing your face with this decadent dish?
Any Italian meats will do (Genoa salami, pepperoni, ham, prosciutto, sausage, etc.), so if you can't find one ingredient, feel free to substitute it for something else. The house smells SO good while this is baking. The pockets of pepperoni were my personal favorite, so I'll be sure to put in some extra next time. My Nanny (maternal grandmother) used to make a similar dish called a Meat Pie. If I'm able to find her recipe, I'll definitely be trying that out to compare. Enjoy and Happy Easter!

Printable Recipe

  • 2 pie crusts, unbaked, 9 inches each
  • 8 oz. part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup part-skim Mozzarella cheese, grated 
  • 1 cup ham, cooked and chopped
  • 1/2 cup pepperoni, chopped
  • 1/4 cup prosciutto, chopped
  • 1/8 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, add ricotta and then beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in the mozzarella cheese, ham, pepperoni, and prosciutto. Combine thoroughly.

Line a 9-inch pan with pie crust.

Add the cheese mixture into the pan. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top and cover with the top pastry.

Crimp edges with fingers and then cut slits to create vents in the top of the pie.

Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour or until crust is golden brown.

Source: Adapted from Holidays Central

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Banana Nut Muffins

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Muffins with texture are my favorites. Throw in some chocolate chips, nuts or chunks of fruit and you've got yourself a winner. I also like to make batches of different sizes, that way you can choose a smaller size if you just want a quick bite to hold you over until your next meal.
I love the hints of walnuts that are scattered throughout these muffins. The banana flavor is subtle and makes the muffins light and moist. These are a perfect grab-and-go breakfast option for those mornings that just sneak up on you. Enjoy!
Printable Recipe

  • 3 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1/3 cup melted light butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (toasted or raw)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a regular cupcake pan with cupcake liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.

Mix in the sugar, egg and vanilla.

Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.

Add the flour, mix until it is just incorporated. Fold in the chopped walnuts.

Pour mixture into a prepared muffin tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin. If it comes out clean, it's done. Cool on a rack.

Note: If making mini muffins, check for doneness after 11-12 minutes.

Source: Adapted from Simply Recipes

Monday, March 25, 2013

Creamy Ranch Chicken Pasta

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Bacon. Ranch. Cheese. Pasta.

What more can you ask for in a dish?

And it will be especially nice in the spring and summer when it starts to get extra hot outside, and I know the last thing you'll want to do is turn on your oven.
If you're a ranch lover, you will thoroughly enjoy this dish. Dry ranch salad dressing mix is combined with flour and milk to make a creamy and delectable sauce. The bacon only makes the flavors more rich and satisfying. I used low-fat milk in place of the whole milk the recipe suggests, and the taste was still perfect. Enjoy!
Printable Recipe
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. ranch dry salad dressing mix
  • 1 1/4 cups low-fat milk
  • 3 cups dried medium egg noodles
  • 1 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Fresh parsley, for serving (optional)
Cut bacon into bite-size pieces. In a large skillet cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels; discard all but 2 tablespoons drippings.
In the same skillet cook chicken in reserved drippings until tender and no longer pink, turning to brown evenly.
Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Sprinkle flour and salad dressing mix over the chicken in the skillet; stir well. Stir in milk. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute more. Stir in bacon. Once combined, add noodles and mix until combined. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve. 
Source: Adapted from Better Homes and Garden

Friday, March 22, 2013

Quick Cinnamon Buns with a Cinnamon Sugar Glaze

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I had planned on taking my husband to brunch the morning of his birthday. I should have known that wouldn't happen. The night before, we got together with a bunch of his friends for dinner and stayed out well into the night. Needless to say, he was not feeling too splendid the next morning.
Thankfully I had a backup plan. I still wanted to surprise him with something special, so I whipped up these cinnamon buns. I used canned biscuits so I didn't need to worry about preparing dough and having enough time for the dough to rise. These took less than 20 minutes and were so delicious. They're soft and the cinnamon sugar glaze really enhanced the flavors of the cinnamon buns. This would be perfect for a brunch gathering or just to surprise your family with one Sunday morning. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe
  • Flour, for rolling out dough
  • 1 (7.5 oz.) can refrigerated buttermilk biscuits, at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 3-4 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 3 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. reduced-fat milk
On a floured surface, knead biscuits into a ball. Once the dough is sticking together, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough so that it forms a rectangle (about 8"x14").
Once rolled out, spread the melted butter over the top. Sprinkle with both sugars and cinnamon. Roll up from the wide side so it resembles a long tube. Pinch the seam to secure the filling.
Cut the roll into 2-inch pieces (you should get about 7 slices altogether).
Spray a pie plate with cooking spray. Arrange the slices in the plate with the filling facing up.
Bake according to biscuit can directions.
Meanwhile, prepare the glaze. Combine the powdered sugar, both sugars, cinnamon and milk in a small bowl until a pourable consistency.
When cinnamon rolls are done, transfer to a plate and pour the glaze on top. Enjoy!
Source: SK Original

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Lasagna Rollatini

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I love dinners that are not too difficult to put together, and make a great presentation. Whether you're having guests over or want to make a special dinner for your significant other, it always makes the mood a little more cheerful when you have a gorgeous and delicious meal in front of you.
For this lasagna dish, I used the same filling as I used for homemade lasagna, but I wanted to make it more personalized and less messy. This version is perfect for when you want the taste to be as impressive as the presentation. The only tricky part is getting the noodles out of the water after cooking in one piece. If you can get past this part, you're golden. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought
  • 6 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 15 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Parsley, chopped, for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch pan and set aside. Heat marinara sauce so it is warm.

Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Carefully remove from pot and place on a wax paper-lined baking sheet.

While the noodles are cooking, combine the ricotta, egg, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and spinach in a medium bowl.

Spread a heaping spoonful of the ricotta mixture evenly each lasagna noodle.

Starting from the narrow end, roll them up all the way. Place the lasagna roll seam side down in the pan. Repeat with remaining noodles.

Once all noodles are done, spread 1 cup of marinara sauce along the top of each roll. Sprinkle evenly with Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cheese becomes golden and bubbly. Serve with remaining marinara sauce.

Source: SK Original

Monday, March 18, 2013

Puff Pastry Mini Apple Bites

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Today's Secret Recipe Club post comes from Nayna at Simply Food. She specializes in vegetarian cooking, so with Lent taking place right now, it was a perfect way for me to get some meatless ideas for Friday nights. She also lives in the United Kingdom, so all the different flavor profiles that she uses in her dishes are a great change of pace from the traditional spices I cook with.
Although the recipe I chose for this week's reveal wasn't a dinner recipe, it was still a recipe that I can make often for breakfast, brunch, or as a light dessert when I have company over. I love all kinds of pastries, so it was no surprise that these apple bites were huge hit. They taste like mini apple pies, with a light and flaky crust. The heart shape is extra cute to serve to children or a loved one. Serve this for breakfast with a cup of coffee, and your day will be off to a great start. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe 

  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 2 granny smith apples
  • 4 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Peel the apples and grate them.

Add the sugar and the cinnamon to the apples and mix well.

Dust a clean surface with flour. Roll out the puff pastry.

Spoon the apple mixture on to the puff pastry and smooth the filling out right to the edges of the pastry.

Starting at the long edge of the puff pastry rectangle, start to roll up the pastry, making sure the filling is tightly encased. Stop when you get to the center of the pastry.

Roll the pastry in the same way from the opposite side of the pastry so that both ends meet rolled up in the center.

Slice the roll into 1-inch pieces and place on a greased baking tray. Shape the pastry so that it resembles a heart.

Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.
Remove from oven and immediately transfer the apple pastry bites to a cooling rack.

Dust with powdered sugar and serve with a cup of coffee.

Source: Adapted from Simply Food

Friday, March 15, 2013

Slow Cooker Drunken Irish Beef Stew

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This is such a hearty and flavorful stew. I wanted to make something for St. Patty's Day, and I'm so glad I came across this recipe. It includes both Guinness and red wine in the broth (hence "Drunken" in the title), and both give the stew remarkable flavor.

I chose to dredge the beef in flour before browning it, which made the stew extra thick and delicious. The subtlety of the Worcestershire is also evident through the beer and wine taste, and it complements the dish perfectly. The beef gets extra tender from cooking all day, so it practically falls apart on your fork. Just make sure you have some bread alongside this dish, because you'll want something to dunk. I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe St. Patty's Day. Enjoy!
Printable Recipe
  • 3 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled & cut into 1/2-inch pieces (approx. 3 cups)
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped (approx. 1 1/2 cups)
  • 4-5 carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (approx. 2 cups)
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 lbs. stew beef, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 3/4 cup Guinness beer
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp. white sugar
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp. dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch + 1 tbsp. water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Crusty bread, for serving

Place the chopped vegetables into the crockpot. Rinse the meat and pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Dredge beef with flour and shake off excess.

In a large, heavy bottomed skillet, heat olive oil at medium to medium-high heat. Add beef to the pan and brown on all sides, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook for one minute, do not burn the garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the beef and add to the crockpot on top of the vegetables

Turn the skillet back up to medium heat. To the skillet, add butter until it's melted. Add beef broth, red wine, beer, tomato paste, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, thyme and bay leaves. Using a wooden spoon, stir the liquids as well as scrape the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, allow to boil for at least five minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add cornstarch and water and stir together.

Pour broth mixture into the crockpot over vegetables and beef. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or 6-9 hours on low.

Skim the fat from the stew, if needed. Serve with crusty bread.

Source: Adapted from The Little Kitchen

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Cheesy BBQ Chicken Sandwich with Bacon

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You can easily have this sandwich on the table in less than 15 minutes. Other than the awesome combination of cheese, bacon and BBQ, that's definitely a bonus. Especially after a long day at the office/with the kids/at school, planning out a lengthy dinner is probably the furthest thing from your mind. Plus adults and kids will both like this. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 6 slices bacon, cut in half
  • 3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half (or 6 thin chicken breasts)
  • BBQ sauce
  • Cheese
  • Lettuce, shredded
  • 6 hamburger buns
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cook bacon in a large skillet. Remove and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Remove all but 2 tbsp. bacon grease from the pan. Add chicken and cook until done, flipping halfway through.

Remove chicken from pan. Spread BBQ sauce on both sides of each piece. Place on a baking sheet and top with cheese and two pieces of bacon. 

Place in the oven for 3-5 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. 

Sprinkle lettuce on one side of the bun and spread a thin layer of BBQ sauce on the other side. Top lettuce with a piece of chicken and serve immediately.

Source: SK Original

Monday, March 11, 2013

Fudgy Rocky Road Brownies

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Every year we go to Bingo night at my nephew's school, and every year I volunteer to make a treat for the bake sale that goes on that same evening. My sister-in-law helps run the event, so I figure it's the least I can do to help out.
I decided to go with brownies this year, but I wanted to make them with a twist. They needed to be something that would grab people's attention and make them buy some! I opted for Rocky Road Brownies because....well, why not? I had to make these sans nuts because of the restrictions at the school, but I bet they would make these even better. The brownie is fudgy with nestles of chocolate chips and marshmallow hidden throughout. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 cups mini marshmallows, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts, divided (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13" baking pan and set aside.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt 1 cup chocolate chips and butter. Stir in sugar; cool slightly. Whisk in eggs. Stir in flour and salt. Stir in 1/2 cup chocolate chips, 2 cups marshmallows and 1 cup walnuts.

Pour into baking pan. Bake 30 minutes.

Sprinkle top with remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips, 1/2 cup marshmallows and 1/2 cup walnuts. Press them down lightly. Return to oven for 2 minutes or until marshmallows are puffed.

Cool completely; refrigerate until firm. Cut into bars and serve.

Source: Marlene Sorosky Gray

Friday, March 8, 2013

Asian-Style Braised Short Ribs

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Chris has been asking me to make short ribs for ages, so I figured his 28th birthday was just the occasion to do it. Since Chris usually has to work on Federal holidays and I always have the day off, I decided to make this the day after his birthday since it fell on President's Day and I would have the whole day to prepare his meal.
The meat cooks for over 3 hours, so by the time I removed it from the pot it was practically falling apart. To say it was tender would be a complete understatement. It just melted in my mouth with every bite. The Asian-inspired flavors were some of Chris' favorites, so the aroma of soy sauce, lemongrass and hoison sauce as he walked through the door was a pleasant surprise. Although time consuming, this meal is much easier than you would think and it would definitely impress special guests. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 4 lbs. boneless beef short ribs, cut into 4-oz. portions
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 (5-inch) stalk lemongrass, halved and smashed
  • 1 tbsp. peeled and minced ginger
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 quart (4 cups) water
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onion bottoms, white part only
  • 3/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Jasmine Rice, for serving
  • Sliced green onion tops, optional for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a wide stockpot or Dutch oven, combine the short ribs, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, brown sugar, water, green onion bottoms, crushed red pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the orange juice. Make sure that the stockpot is deep enough so that the short ribs are submerged in the liquid.

Bake the short ribs, covered, for about 3 hours, or until the meat is tender and falling off the bones. Remove the short ribs from the braising liquid and cover to keep warm. Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F.

Drain the fat off of the cooking liquid and discard. Place the remaining braising juices in a medium saucepan with 1/4 cup of the hoisin sauce and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the liquid until only about 1 1/4 cups remain. Strain through a fine-meshed strainer, discarding the solids. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of orange juice and the lemon juice.

Return the short ribs and the reduced sauce to the stockpot or Dutch oven, coating the short ribs well with the sauce. Bake for 10 minutes, until the short ribs are heated through and slightly glazed. Serve hot over jasmine rice. Season each portion with the orange zest and garnish with the green onions if desired.

Source: Adapted from Food Network

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Homemade Orange Julius

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When we were younger, my mom would take my younger brother and me to a certain mall solely so we could go to their Orange Julius stand. My brother was obsessed with those things and could easily down 2 or 3 if our mom would have let him. He was hyper enough as it was when he was younger, so I thank her for saving me from that disaster.
I never really knew what was in Orange Julius' besides orange of course. And little pieces of ice and added a perfect crunch to the frothy texture. Now that I know milk is a main ingredient it makes perfect sense! This is a great treat to surprise your kids (or friends!) with. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 1 (12 oz.) can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 1 cup reduced-fat milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 10 to 12 ice cubes
In a blender, combine the orange juice, milk, water, sugar and vanilla. Cover and blend until smooth. With blender running, add ice cubes, one at a time, through the opening in lid. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

Source: Adapted from Taste of Home

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sausage and Hash Brown Bake

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This is my go-to recipe whenever I host or go to brunch. Everyone devours it and they always ask me for the recipe. Always. Without fail.
I've posted this before, but wanted to bring it to the front since I took some better pictures and I think some people have missed it. I swear this will be a hit for the next gathering you attend. Just make sure you get a scoop first, because there probably won't be much left after too long. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 2 packages (12 oz. each) bulk sausage
  • 4 cups Simply Potatoes Southwestern Hash Browns OR
    • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
    • 3 cups hash brown potatoes
    • 1 cup bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups (8 oz.) Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Bisquick
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 4 eggs

  • Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease 13x9 inch baking dish.
    Cook sausage in large skillet over medium heat. If using onion and bell pepper separately, add this to the sausage mixture to cook. Cook until sausage is no longer pink; drain.

    Stir together sausage, hash browns and 1 1/2 cups of the Cheddar cheese. Pour into baking dish.

    In a separate bowl, stir together Bisquick, milk, pepper and eggs until blended. Pour into baking dish over sausage mixture.

    Bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake until cheese melts. Cool for 5 minutes.

    Source: Adapted from Betty Crocker

    Friday, March 1, 2013

    Quiche Lorraine

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    My friends and I like to get together for a potluck brunch every once in a while, and it's always an excuse for me to try out a new recipe. My husband so graciously put together a Bloody Mary Bar for us, and was on bar duty for the afternoon. The spread consisted of a french toast casserole, sausage and cheese balls, banana nut muffins, fruit salad, ham balls, sausage and hashbrown casserole, and this Quiche Lorraine.
    I've had Quiche Lorraine once before, and what sold me the most was the Swiss cheese. I'm a huge fan, and since that is the main component of this quiche I was sold. Not to mention there is bacon involved, and you can't go wrong with bacon. I opted to make my own crust, but you can easily buy a pre-made crust at the store to save yourself some time. Enjoy!

    Printable Recipe


    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. shortening
    • 2 to 3 tbsp. cold water
    • 8 slices bacon, crisply cooked, crumbled (1/2 cup)
    • 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese (4 oz.)
    • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
    • 4 large eggs
    • 2 cups reduced-fat half-and-half
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp. pepper
    • 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper (cayenne)

    In medium bowl, mix flour and salt. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).

    Gather pastry into a ball. Shape into flattened round on lightly floured surface. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate about 45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. This allows the shortening to become slightly firm, which helps make the baked pastry more flaky. If refrigerated longer, let pastry soften slightly before rolling.

    Heat oven to 425°F. With floured rolling pin, roll pastry into round 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch quiche dish or glass pie plate. Fold pastry into fourths; place in quiche dish. Unfold and ease into dish, pressing firmly against bottom and side. Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1 inch from rim of pie plate. Fold and roll pastry under, even with plate; flute as desired.

    Carefully line pastry with a double thickness of foil, gently pressing foil to bottom and side of pastry. Let foil extend over edge to prevent excessive browning. Bake 10 minutes. Carefully remove foil and bake 2 to 4 minutes longer or until pastry just begins to brown and has become set. If crust bubbles, gently push bubbles down with back of spoon.

    Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Sprinkle bacon, cheese and onion in pie crust. In medium bowl, beat eggs slightly; beat in remaining filling ingredients. Pour into quiche dish.

    Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

    Source: Adapted from Betty Crocker