Here's a funny-well-not-really anecdote for you:
Our morning routine is very rushed. Hugo has to be up by 6:10 at the latest to have enough time to get dressed, eat breakfast, brush his teeth and get out the door (with shoes, jacket and scarf on, preferably) by 6:55 to catch the school bus. While the boys have their breakfast, their dad's showering and getting dressed (he has to leave at the same time Hugo does and has a nearly 2-hour commute each way), I'm chatting with them, packing Hugo's snack box and pounding down some kind of hot drink to keep from falling over.
Hugo's favorite weekday breakfast are toasted English muffins with peanut butter and jam. We don't always have English muffins around, and on those days, he's happy enough to settle for whatever bread we do have (it's usually some kind of dark German rye thing), as long as it's spread with PB & J. (Occasionally, he will decide it's butter instead of PB that he wants. That is fine!) Bruno's favorite breakfast is oatmeal with frozen blueberries. That child will plow through an adult portion first thing, then basically refuse to eat more than a bite of this and that at lunch and dinner. Small mercies.
Now, this morning, since there were no English muffins, I decided to make oatmeal for both boys. I do have to grudgingly admit that I sort of had an inkling (oh, ho ho ho) there was going to be some kind of pushback (ha ha haaa), so I pumped up the oatmeal with chopped apples and cinnamon and brown sugar (which I usually never add), added frozen blueberries for good measure, even drizzled the top with maple syrup. All their favorite things! What lucky boys! They were definitely going to gobble this up, weren't they? I ignored my misgivings, dished it up, place the bowls on the table and...then...
Both children contemplated their breakfast. Hugo made a face and asked me where his English muffin was. "There are none. This is your breakfast today!" I grinned in what I hoped was an encouraging way, but I suspect was slightly more maniacal. Who knows; I was still feeling pretty chipper in that moment. You know, pride cometh before a fall and all that. I mean, Hugo used to love oatmeal with blueberries, just like his baby brother! Two years ago, yeah, but still! What could go wrong?
He took a tentative bite, while Bruno dug in briefly. Then Hugo put down his spoon and refused to eat anymore. Bruno watched and followed suit. And then my head exploded. Parenthood! Ain't it a kick in the head?
The reason I'm telling you this is because I feel like the recipe I actually want to share today is exactly the same kind of thing as that lovely oatmeal: on the face of it absolutely harmless and tasty, yet still a total minefield waiting to happen. Nevertheless, I promise you that you will want these little ricotta-spinach frittatine for your back pocket. Even if your crazy children won't eat them, YOU will. And you can bring them to any school buffet, bake sale, book club potluck, WHATEVER, and they'll be the first thing eaten and grown-ups will pester you for the recipe. Ask me how I know.
The recipe comes from my beloved Catherine Newman, who writes a column about low-carb recipes for diaTribe.org, which is a website for people with diabetes, which I do not have, but Catherine's recipes are always very good and also family-friendly so I follow her everywhere she goes and cook almost anything she tells me to. Especially these mini cheese-and-vegetable frittatine.
The frittatine are made with eggs, a lot of grated cheese, ricotta and some vegetables and herbs. I've used spinach and broccoli, both to rave reviews. I've used grated Cheddar and grated Gouda, both to rave reviews. What I'm trying to say is that they are very flexible things. They're easy to make, bake up cute in muffin tins and store well in the fridge. I love how portable they are and how much flavor is packed into each little round. I use less ricotta and cheese than Catherine does, but to no ill-effect. These are versatile and easy and I love them, yes, I do.
The first time I made them, they were for a school buffet, but I gave the first two to Hugo and Bruno to see if they liked them. I was pretty sure they would! Spoiler alert: They did not. Fair enough. Luckily, I thought they were scrumptious. And at the school buffet, they were gone in minutes. Vindication! A pathetic one, but still. My sense is that if your children like cheese and scrambled eggs, there's a good chance they'll like them. But they might not. In that case, try to be better than me and just appreciate the fact that you now have a batch of delicious cheesy vegetable egg bites for your breakfast all week.
Off to buy more English muffins, maybe two packages, now.
Catherine Newman's Ricotta and Spinach Frittatine
Makes 12 mini frittatine
Adapted from diaTribe.org
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
250 grams (8.8 ounces) whole-milk ricotta
1 heaping cup grated cheddar, gouda or mozzarella
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
3 cups chopped baby spinach (around 6 ounces) or equal amount of steamed, chopped broccoli or frozen spinach
1-2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs (like parsley, chives, basil or a lesser amount of thyme or marjoram)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Heat the oven to 350 and grease the 12 wells of a standard muffin tin.
2. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat and sauté the onion until soft and browning, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, cook another minute, then add the spinach and cook until just wilted, about 1 minute.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the cheeses and stir. Add the vegetables, the herbs, and the salt and pepper, and stir well.
4. Divide the mixture in the muffin cups and bake 15-20 minutes until puffed, deeply golden, and set. Eat right away or refrigerate.