Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Mini Ricotta Frittatas

This is and isn't a photograph of the kind of week I'm having.
There's something so funny about a food blog. Because: Mini Ricotta Frittatas! It's so cheerful. It's got that nice double-T consonance going for it. Plus, they're mini! They've got ricotta in them! How could I possible be having such a terrible week?

Oh, but I am. It is one thing and another, and yet all the things are manageable things--bad work stuff, my annual back-to-school grief, non-catastrophic family health issues--because, please. You know. My dearest friend of 43 years died in February! Is this that? No. It is not. Although it's true that I have been wearing all her clothes in a terrible melancholy way. There's one shirt I especially like, and Ben offered to silkscreen it for me: "My best friend died and all I got was this lousy t-shirt." So, you know. There's that.

I should be showing you a lunchbox or something similarly seasonally festive, but fuck it.
That kid. And the other kid. And my friends and partner and parents. And all of the beautiful, wonderful things about my life. There was actually this crazy moment yesterday, when I was so distracted by this one particular stressful work thing that I was picking tomatillos with Ben, distracted. And then I was making enchilada sauce, distracted. And I was eating my favorite dinner, which is enchilada casserole, with my favorite people, who are Ben and Birdy and Michael, distracted. And then I was playing Agricola, my absolute favorite game, distracted. And then--because I am the Dalai Lama--it occurred to me that work is a means to and end, and the end is leading the kind of life I want to lead, and enjoying the things I enjoy, and those are all the things I love most, so why was I missing out on them? I know. It's crazy.

Anyhoo. Mini Ricotta Frittatas! Because the kids started school, and Birdy requested something fun for her lunchbox, and then got to flipping through this sweet book, which we'd gotten a review copy of, and picked out these little egg cups (the fact that all the photographs in the book were of preschoolers did not seem to daunt Birdy in the slightest). They're delicious, and I know, because I ate one, and then right after that I ate another. They're kind of weighty and cheesy, in a good way, as opposed to dry and fluffy. Two, cold in a thermos, makes a perfect lunch for her, and would really make a perfect lunch for anyone. I'm going to try doubling the recipe and baking it in a springform pan for dinner.

Mini Ricotta Frittatas
This is adapted from the recipe for “Spinach and Ricotta Egg Muffin Cups” from the book Little Bites. I added dill because it seemed like they were begging for herbs. Also, the book suggested that 2 cups of chopped spinach was 8 ounces, but really it was more like 3 ounces. I chose to wilt the spinach in the pan rather than adding it raw. Another great variation, I'm positive, would be fresh corn kernels and cilantro (which I'm trying next) instead of spinach and dill, with maybe Monterey Jack swapped in for the mozzarella. 

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 eggs
1 cup whole-milk ricotta (Calabro is the kind I like to use, after extensive research)
¾ cup grated whole-milk mozzarella (I like Polly-O or Trader Joe's)
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan
2 cups chopped spinach (around 4 ounces)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill (or another herb of your choosing: cilantro, mint, basil, parsley, chives, or a lesser amount of thyme or marjoram)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Black pepper

Heat the oven to 350 and grease 8 of the wells in a standard muffin tin.

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.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the cheeses and stir. Add the spinach mixture, the dill, and the salt and pepper, and stir well. Season this aggressively. If you're too shy to taste it raw (fair enough), microwave a tiny bit and check for salt.

Divide the mixture in the muffin cups (I used an ice cream scoop, but a 1/3-cup measure would work well), and bake 15-20 minutes until puffed, deeply golden, and set. Eat right away or refrigerate--or try a little of both.


  1. Oh my God! Are you having such a shitty week, too? Here, every day something bad has happened, and every day I sigh to myself, "Nothing worse can possibly happen", and then it does. Can I vent? Because I'm freaking out here.
    First, the wildfires started (the ones that made international news) ten miles from our house. Talk about adrenaline and hyper vigilance. Then there's the smoke we had to deal with every day, and the grief of people we know losing their houses, and people we know having their firefighting friends die. Then my husband and I got into a terrible, week-long disagreement. Then I got a flat tire on a deserted stretch of a mountain road with no cell coverage and just me and my little daughter, and a creepy guy wanting to help us. The next day, I backed into my friend's truck and crunched it and the side of my new (to me) van. The next day, we discovered that our son has head lice. Then my goats got into the grain and could have possibly died of bloat. The next day, the worst summer storm in Washington state's history hit and knocked out power to half a million people, killing two. The next day our well ran dry, and we still have to do lots of laundry because of the lice. Today my 15 year old dog shows signs of needing to be at the end of his life.
    Can I please have a break? Maybe I need to make your ricotta thingies, but it's hard to make a mess in the kitchen if you don't have water.
    Sorry to vent, but I feel better now.

    1. You poor thing! At least no locusts! And did you end up eating the seed wheat? Because it sounds a lot like a chapter from the Little House books! Sending love.

  2. !!! Seeing Birdy reading Waiting for Birdy has blown my circuits.

  3. Oh, goodness. My mother-in-law died in January , and my husband and I are in pretty much the exact same fall/school/bleh situation you described -- right down to the obsessing about stressful work stuff while doing fun things like picking veggies from the garden with kiddos and watching a TV show after the kids go to bed. And he's been wearing his mom's t-shirts. And I've been wearing her jacket. We should be so grateful for all the blessing in our lives, but we're not quite there at the moment.

    At any rate, I'm sorry that you're in this strange boat, too. But I also feel better that we're not the only ones.

    On an unrelated-but-cheerful note, a few months ago you sent me a book, Rad American Women A-Z, for my very rad pregnant friend. Her baby boy arrived healthy and well, and she's reading him the book so that he can get started being a good feminist early.

    Love to you and yours.

    1. Thank you for all of this, Hanna. I'm so sorry about your mother-in-law, and so glad for your friend and her baby and my friend's book! xo

  4. Anonymous3:12 PM

    I love what Birdy is reading :) Haven't seem that cover for years since I lent it to someone and she lent it on. But since she is one of my best friends, I don't hold it against her! And someone else gets to read it - it IS a good book. Still, shame!!
    Hope your week has improved drastically!

  5. My best friend died almost 5 years ago (leukemia), and I have lots of her clothes and jewelry. Every now and then I have to give something away or pass it on, because it just does not fit, but I love wearing her things! I have her Keen water shoes that I wear int he summer when I swim in the ocean and ponds, despite the fact that they are about a size to big. I have a grey hoodie of hers that I wear all the time too, and some lovely dressy summer sandals that I have worn only once in 5 years, but when I wore them I was so happy! Anyway, I hope the week gets better and I hope that the shirt lasts forever!

  6. I saved your post to read after having to tie up all my loose ends from my own dreadful Wednesday and then I find you, and others, also in a funk. It is always good to know we aren't alone. :) It is equally as good to be reminded of being present-because that is the point, isn't it?
    Also, I've been having a random, reoccurring thought of concocting some kind of "eggy-muffin"/quiche cup for my daughter's lunchbox. Thank you for doing my research for me. Let's hope a long weekend gives all of us the recharge we need!

  7. I'm so sorry your week is poopy. But the fact that you caught yourself and were able to be grateful is huge - don't you think? I do.. Because you're grand. And while I love reading the recipes that I am never brave enough to make, I will be honest and say I love more reading about you and your wonderful family. That was meant as the highest compliment and I hope you took it as such.

    Grief...well.. I never thought it would be so physically painful - but it really is, isn't it? This vice that grasps your chest so tightly. I know it well - and even though 3 years have passed since I lost my beloved cousin (who was like my sister) it still comes back with the same force amazingly. And I still sob... so yeah, enough of that.

    Birdy reading your book - yes, I grinned crazily at that picture. Time to re-read it.

    AND - Catherine - my daughter told me she wanted a ukulele for her birthday - so I had to google your recommendation and found it immediately (thank you google) because I couldn't remember how long ago your recommendation was. So - come October there will be a ukulele playing 14 yr old signing her heart out in our home.

    Love to you dear Catherine and to Birdy, Ben and Michael. Happy Fall.

  8. 'Tis the season I think. Without fail, I find myself in an end of summer funk each year before school starts. I remember reading back when you were still waiting for Birdy...time flies! Wishing you a happy long weekend :)

  9. I've been chalking my exhaustion and irritability up to a particularly bad case of seasonal affective disorder (how is it worse some years than others?!?)... it sounds crazy, but mine always starts near the end of August. Between that and a confluence of rotten circumstances, bad luck, and long days, I just want to quit. Everything. Just for a little while. Work, home, kids, pets, dinners, husband, all of it. Blech. I hope something breaks soon and I can shake this off. Though it is good to know that others are going through the same thing...makes me wonder if maybe it's some kind of cosmic force... like maybe pluto is in retrograde or something (wtf does that even mean? lol.)

    1. Robin1:04 PM

      @Stircrazy and all who are wondering what might be happening to us at this time of year besides the emotional elements of the end of summer and back to school--there's some data to suggest that September is a particularly bad month for depression and related conditions, and that it has to do with the rapid loss of daylight (hence what might seem like a too-early case of Seasonal Affective Disorder). Some folks are more affected by the loss of the light rather than its lowest levels in winter, so it totally makes sense that you'd start to notice it in August and that it would feel like a cosmic force!

    2. Yes, THIS! People never understand why my SAD kicks in NOW even though they seem to understand that we start losing daylight as soon as we hit the summer solstice in June. Fall is the WORST season of the year. Winter is better because even though it is cold at least we start gaining back some of the lovely light. I installed a new light in my kitchen that uses 7 60 watt daylight bulbs! Gives me an entire warm room of close to natural light. It is so so helpful. Also a SAD light by my bed and decent sleep are a must. I will get through it. You will get through it Stircrazy. Hang in there.

  10. So sorry to hear you've had a rough week. Sometimes they're just like that. The last half of August marked what would have been my parents' 53rd wedding anniversary and her 75th birthday, had she not died years ago. I dealt with a lot of unexpected sadness as I passed those dates. Here's hoping the long weekend leads to a sunnier week ahead.

    How much do I love seeing Birdy reading your book?! Adorable. Makes me want to re-read it. I still remember how I'd laugh out loud on the train. People thought I was crazy. Or not maybe.

    I also love that this is a good school lunch for her. My daughter's go-to for YEARS has been 'school pasta' - olive oil, salt & pepper, Parmesan. It would be nice to add something else to the rotation. I'll see how this goes.

  11. Anonymous2:27 PM

    I'm sorry you have had a rough week. I am so grateful that you shared that with us though; always good to be reminded that even your (deeply lived, deeply reflective, deeply grateful) life also has its sharp angles and rough ridges.

    Also, can we do another book ideas/share agains sometime soon, please? I get all my book ideas from you lovely people, and I think I've now made my way through all of them and need MORE! Thank you, dear benandbirdy-ites (:

  12. I will make these - and appreciate the fact that they use FRESH spinach, and not frozen, then thawed, then drained spinach (if anyone has ideas on how to convert the amount of frozen spinach to fresh - I'd appreciate it.)

    Your Ben is hilarious - I hope some day I don't accidentally say to my kids, "Why can't you be more like Ben and Birdy?" Love his sense of humor - and I'm betting that he could actually do the silk screening, because Ben.

  13. Cathy3:19 PM

    Oh, I am sorry about your week, and man, do I identify--the work worry, the distraction, the accidental misplacement of priorities, all of it. But I came to say thank you about something else, which as to do with how very good you are at appreciating the life you have. For years now I've been reading your end-of-summer camping posts and wishing I were the sort of person who liked camping--but being pretty sure I wasn't. And then this year, we got a random invitation to go camping, and I thought of all those posts and said yes. We just got back and it was AMAZING--I loved it, my husband loved it, the kids loved it, we are so hooked. I'm not kidding that I probably would never have considered this except for all those blog posts--so thanks, so much.

  14. Anonymous4:18 PM

    It's so funny about the clothes of the ones we've loved and lost. When my mom died two and a half years ago, my sister and I couldn't seem to part with her clothes. We stored them for a while in my sister's spare room. They were folded and sorted into these neat piles on top of her bed and she would go in there and lie on top of them and cry. Then we went through all these clothes and I kept more than a few boxes of them. I couldn't really wear them, but I stored them up high in the rafters of our storage room. They are still there. I also kept a few of her pillows to hug, and smell, and sleep on. I very proprietary about them, too. Occasionally if one of my kids is sick or has had a rough day, I let them sleep on one of the pillows. That makes me feel good. Grief is complicated. Wear your friend's clothes as much as you want. One of the few things that made sense to me I might have read here--there's not right way to grieve. Sorry for the rough week. --Cathy K
    P.S. Such a strangely wonderful sight to see Birdy reading the "Waiting for Birdy" book!

  15. I am so so so so sorry that for various reasons you're not feeling ok. :-( And that photo of Birdy reading "her" book makes me want to sob, it's so beautiful.

    We love you. We are also MAD at the universe that you had to lose your beloved friend. And that kids grow and years pass, summers end and school years start again. We're with you. Sigh...

  16. One of the nicest things anyone ever did for me (and I have been very blessed, embarrassingly blessed, in that department) was after my mother died suddenly, my friend sat with me as we went through my mother's clothes. I felt funny wearing them (she had a distinct style that was very unlike my own) and my friend took them to her house, and despite having two young children, quickly made me a quilt of my mother's clothes so I could wrap myself in them when I was missing her. It is one of my treasured possessions. So I love that you are able to wear your friend's clothes and bring her to you in a tangible way in those achy newly intangible weeks.
    Be good to you. Thank you for taking the time to share these yummy looking things. I can't wait to try them.

  17. recipe for enchilada casserole, please? :)

  18. You win all the awards for a recipe post making a girl cry. The picture of Birdy reading Waiting for Birdy tipped me right over the edge. xox

  19. I just made these with corn and cilantro, and you're right Catherine, they are totally delicious! I used cheddar instead of mozzarella and was able to eke out nine so that my little family of three got three each. Thank you for another great recipe. And I'm hearing ya about feeling down even when we should be so thankful. NPR just seemed especially depressing today--Syrian refugees, the chronic health problems of African Americans, pervasive greediness. Our world is so broken. I don't know what to do except to try and be kind and gentle and spread love and joy in the ways we can. Food is definitely one of those ways and I thank you for sharing your love with us.

  20. A few things: a. I've rearranged my planned menu this week to make these with corn and cilantro, b. I hope your melancholy has lifted and the problems have worked themselves out, as problems tend to do sometimes, and c. how freaking funny is your son to say that, and how awesome that you have the kind of relationship that he can?! I didn't know your friend, but if she's your friend, I imagine she would appreciate a great smart-ass line. I hope she'd be laughing heavenly laughter at that. Kim

  21. I hope this week is a little better for you! I just had to let you know that my son (12) LOVED this recipe!! He has claimed to "hate fritata" for some time, but these...they're little and cute and feature LOTS of cheese. He's none the wiser.

    I can also add that I used a creamy cottage cheese (no visible curds or wateriness) instead of ricotta because I can't get it where I live, and used chives and spinach. It was great! Thanks as always for a new recipe to add to my lineup!

  22. Hugs and love. September can be kind of a jerk making sentimental people melancholy and all that. By the way- do we already know your favorite enchilada casserole recipe?!

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