Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bacon & Swiss Quiche + Our Weekend Getaway in Oregon, IL

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As we're headed into the last weekend of June {yay!} I wanted to share the wonderful experience I with The Baron last weekend. We've taken quite a few weekend trips the past few months with Joel and so The Baron thought it would be good for us to take time away just for the two of us... how thoughtful, right? Since The Baron loves to go walking and hiking, we ventured out west to Oregon, IL to relax and take in nature. Oregon, IL is located just 30 minutes or so south of Rockford, IL. While there, we enjoyed a picnic in the woods, a hike through some trails, walks along the Rock River and even some strolls through a Japanese Garden. It was such a lovely time!


I've never heard of Oregon, IL before this trip and this was the first time for The Baron to go as well. We didn't know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised with how quaint and hospitable it was. One of the first things we noticed about Oregon is that they have tee pees everywhere. I guess it was to pay homage to the Indian influence surrounding the town. Funny tidbit - The Baron called these igloos. Ha! I still give him a hard time in that he didn't know the difference between an igloo and a tee pee, even if it was for a split second lol.

Once we got to Oregon, we hit up the local grocery store. There, we grabbed some things for a little picnic to have in the woods. I think our eyes were bigger than our stomachs because we picked up more food than we needed for the weekend. [For our picnic, we had an Italian sub sandwich, fresh peaches, baby carrots, some chips and tea/water.] We love picnics - what do you generally pack when you go on one?

With our picnic packed, we headed off to Lowden State Park. Lowden State Park is made famous for the Black Hawk Statue, also known as The Eternal Indian, that overlooks the Rock River. Being that the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team was playing that night in the Stanley Cup Finals, we like to think our trip to the park to pay respects to the Black Hawk Statue helped in their win lol. After some obligatory picture taking by the statue, we enjoyed our picnic lunch in the woods. When lunch was finished, we drove a bit around Lowden State Park and decided to check out what else was nearby. Just a few miles from Oregon, IL was Castle Rock State Park. There, we hiked through one of the trails. It was really nice because it was a mixed terrain of grass, wood chips, dirt walkways and had varying inclines. It was also pretty hot and humid by the time we were done, which was perfect timing since it was about time for us to check into a local bed and breakfast.

After getting cleaned up from our sweaty hike at Castle Rock State Park, we relaxed a bit before dinner. And for dinner, we decided to treat ourselves to the best place in the area - Blackhawk Steak Pit. The restaurant is on the opposite side of the Rock River, just in front of where Black Hawk Statue stands out. This place is known for their great steaks and they certainly lived up to their reputation when we dined there. The Baron had their prime rib roast with onions and mushrooms with a baked potato. I ordered their black angus ribeye steak with brown sugared sweet potato mash. Both our dinners came with a trip to their salad bar. Overall, it was delicious and filling!

When we were done with dinner, we took a stroll along the Rock River to work off what we ate... so we could make room for dessert at the local Dairy Queen. The Baron has this thing for the DQ Peanut Butter Parfait so he enjoyed that for dessert while I nibbled on a cherry dipped Dilly Bar...

So... this bed & breakfast we stayed at... Neither of us had ever stayed at a bed and breakfast before. In researching a place to stay for our trip, I learned about The Patchwork Inn. It's located in the center of Oregon and is within walking distance to the grocery store, a little local antique mall, a beach, the Rock River, and is surrounded by quaint conveniences. The B&B owners, Steph and Bill, were so welcoming, laid back and definitely made us feel so at home. We stayed in a room that overlooked the garden and back patio space. It was perfect - so clean and comfortable too! Aside from our room, we were welcome to relax in the B&B front parlor which had lots of magazines and old albums documenting the history of Oregon and the B&B itself. It's been said that Abraham Lincoln stayed in one of the rooms during the mid 1850s. Back then, the B&B was known as the Moore's Hotel and Lincoln traveled and spent time here before becoming President. There's also the lower level where guests can help themselves to an array of beverages from their fridge. Feel like a movie? Steph and Bill has a well stocked DVD collection guests can pick from and as an added bonus, microwave popcorn is available to go with your movies!

But after all the wonderful things this B&B has to offer and the clean and comfy accommodations it provided, we were surprised the next morning with their homemade breakfast. Each morning, they have a special menu planned for breakfast. For us, Bill made his 'famous' bacon and swiss quiche, accompanied by sliced strawberries and bananas and their homemade oatmeal toast. We got to help ourselves to coffee, teas and a variety of fresh juices too! It was such a delicious breakfast that both The Baron and I are still thinking about. When we told Bill how much we enjoyed his quiche, he happily provided us with his recipe, which I've shared below.

Bill's Bacon & Swiss Quiche
from the Patchwork Inn

8 slices bacon, diced
1 onion, diced
8 oz shredded aged Swiss cheese
6 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
5 eggs, beaten
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 uncooked pie crust

Preheat oven to 425 degees. Place prepared pie crust on a baking sheet.

In a skillet over medium high heat, add bacon and cook until fat is rendered and bacon is browned and crisp. Transfer bacon from the skillet to a large bowl and set aside.

In the same skillet, add the onions and sauté in the bacon renderings until softened. Transfer onions to the same bowl with the bacon.

Add the cheeses to the bowl and toss to combine with the bacon and onions. Place the mixture in the unbaked pie crust.

In another bowl, combine the eggs, salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture into the pie crust making sure everything is level.

Bake quiche in the preheated 425 degree oven for 25 minutes.

Decrease the oven temperature down to 375 degrees and bake quiche until is nicely browned, about  5-10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely before slicing.

* For a spinach mushroom quiche, substitute 1 (10oz) box of frozen spinach, thawed; and 1 (8oz) can of mushrooms, drained; for the bacon. Continue to use the recipe above to prepare as directed.

After a lovely stay at The Patchwork Inn, we loaded up our stuff and headed to Rockford. The Baron and I weren't familiar with Rockford so we had ourselves a little excursion to see what it had to offer. I learned that one of Rockford's popular attractions is the Anderson Japanese Gardens. There, we were surprised to see such a beautiful oasis of lush Japanese flora and waterfalls. Just being there hearing the calming sounds of the running water and smelling the fragrant flowers was enough to make you feel like you were in Japan.

We took a lot of pictures here because it was so beautiful. There were numerous foot bridges, park benches in the various shaded pockets of the garden... and we realized we need to work on taking 'selfies' pics with our smart phones...

There was even a cute tea house perched up on a little rock. We couldn't go inside the house since it was small to begin with, but I would imagine it being a perfect place to meditate...

We spent a good amount of time just relaxing at the Japanese Gardens and afterwards, we met up with some dear friends who live blocks away. I haven't seen them in over a year and a half so it was great to catch up, give some hugs and enjoy a late lunch together.

All in all, it was wonderful weekend away with The Baron. Being outdoors to appreciate nature, enjoy the company of a loved one and catch up with old friends was a great way to spend the free time I had. So if you're into hiking, check out Lowden and Castle Rock State Parks... and I hear Rock Cut State Park is also good, which is not far from Rockford, IL. Looking for a cute bed & breakfast in this part of Illinois? The Patchwork Inn is the place to stay! And if coming out to this part of the world isn't on your bucket list, no worries... give the Bacon & Swiss Quiche recipe a try for a taste of Oregon, Illinois.

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