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Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category

It’s finally Fall- my favorite season! Although it certainly came late this year. Just two weeks ago, Tony and I went to “the country” for a weekend in Virgina and it was still 80 degrees! We pretended it was cool and crisp and the leaves were changing, nevermind the fact we were still in flip flops. It was a great weekend.

 We stayed at the Marriott Ranch B&B in Flint Hill, VA. We’ve stayed here before and it’s a great place!

We hiked around and played on tractors…

and had some close encounters with these guys!

We also went wine tasting and had a picnic.

And we went apple picking!

       

   

We came home with about ten pounds of apples, so I tried to find the most versatile recipe to make with them. I found a recipe for a “Breakfast” Apple Granola Crisp here and it was perfect- something you can eat for breakfast and dessert or really anytime of the day. It’s essentially an apple crisp, but the topping is a bit more “granola-y” so it passes for 1) healthy and 2) a breakfast food. Works for me! 

Breakfast Apple Granola Crisp

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds* apples (any mix of apples) (peeled, cored and cut into medium chunks**)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (I used a mix of brown and white)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, toss apple chunks with lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and pinch of salt.

Add to a 9×13-inch baking dish. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter with the honey. Stir in the flour, oats, almonds, coconut and another pinch of salt until clumps form. Sprinkle evenly over the apple mixture and bake in the oven for about 45 to 55 minutes, or until the apples are softened and bubbly. The granola will probably start to brown to soon, so cover the baking dish with foil for the last few minutes (as you can see I did it too late). After you remove the foil, put it back in the oven for a few more minutes to help the granola re-crisp. Cool to room temperature and keep in fridge for about a week.

Tastes great by itself or with plain yogurt (see- breakfast!):

*three pounds = approx. 9 medium apples.

** very helpful if you can get your husband to do this part

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We recently joined a CSA (“community supported agriculture”) called Harvest Delivered!

 

Our friend Andrea is a member and she recommended it to us. We looked into a bunch of CSAs and liked the flexibility offered by this one.  We pay by the week, there is no annual fee, and we can stop delivery any week (if we’re out of town or for any reason). This was important to us because our main hesitation was that we wouldn’t use all of the produce delivered and it would go to waste (and be a waste of $$$). We signed up for a 1-2 person delivery and so far the amount has been just right for the two of us. Oh, and they also deliver right to your door! So we don’t have to go to any out of the way pick-up point once a week. This was also a huge plus for us! So this will be a fun challenge to find new and fun ways to use the fruit and veggies each week! (see new category on the right)

Our first week’s loot included some beautiful and colorful Swiss Chard! So I decided the most efficient (and tasty) way to use the produce was to make a frittata! It was a great summer weeknight meal and also provided lunch for the both us a few days after. That’s my kind of dish!

Swiss Chard Frittata

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 4 leaves Swiss Chard, chopped (stems removed and chopped separately into ½ inch pieces)
  • 4 small potatoes, diced  
  • 2 green onions, chopped (white and very light green parts only)
  • ½ large yellow onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ – ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Splash of milk

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place potatoes in a saucepan; cover with water and bring to a boil; cook approx. 8 minutes, until fork tender. Drain and cool. Set aside. In the meantime, whisk eggs, a splash of milk, salt, pepper and the parm cheese in a bowl. Heat oil in an ovenproof pan over medium-high heat. Add Swiss chard stalks, yellow onion and green onion, and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add Swiss chard leaves and cook until wilted and tender, about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Add potatoes. Pour egg mixture over vegetables evenly. Place pan in the oven and bake until the eggs have set, about 15 minutes. Serve on top of a bed of mixed greens for a light dinner and/or lunch.

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Egg in a Hole

I’ve recently become obsessed with “Egg in a Hole” (or “bird’s nest”/”toad in a hole,” whatever you call it). I ordered this for brunch one day on a whim and wondered where it had been all my life! I’m definitely more of an omlette person. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever made a fried egg in my life. Tony and I tried to re-create this one night but it was a total failure (we didn’t have the right bread, the eggs were cooked all wrong, etc.).

Then last week while we were up at my parents’ house over Easter weekend, I saw my Mom had baked a few loaves of bread and I decided to try again.  It was actually my Mom’s birthday, so that morning “the kids” made breakfast and when I asked, everyone wanted to try Egg in a Hole! I’m happy to say they turned out great!

Directions

Start by cutting thick slices of bread (one slice per person or per egg). Any hearty, thick bread will work- although for best results I highly recommend homemade bread freshly baked by my Mom! : ) (and based on personal experience, two day old french baguette does not work!). Next, using a small biscuit cutter (or the rim of a small glass) cut a round circle out of the center of the bread. Tip: save the bread cut outs and add to the pan to toast them too.

Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Add a tablespoon or two of butter. When the butter is melted, add the slices of bread. Toast for a few minutes on each side to get crispy.

Next, crack an egg and drop in “the hole” (don’t worry if the whites spread out over the bread, it tastes better that way!). Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the egg appears to be firm but not completely cooked.

Then gently flip each slice of bread and cook on the other side for a few more minutes until done (more or less time depending on how runny your like your egg).

Salt and pepper and serve!

Enjoy! This is my new favorite breakfast!

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Irish Soda Bread

One of my favorite things about St. Patrick’s Day, in addition to the arrival of Spring and the excuse to drink green beer, is Irish Soda Bread! I’ve been enjoying this bread since I was a wee-little leprechaun and I’ve since realized it’s actually quite easy and quick to make yourself!

This year I used a recipe from my Joy of Cooking cookbook and it worked like  a lucky charm!  

Wait. You say this isn’t REAL Irish Soda Bread? Around this time of year much attention is drawn to the fact that what we, Americans call Irish Soda Bread, is not in fact authentic Irish soda bread. Some argue that the inclusion of raisins, caraway seeds, and even eggs, are an American invention and corruption of the original recipe.  Yes my friends, there is even a Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread.

Apparently, traditional Irish soda bread is just plain brown bread consisting of flour, salt, baking soda and buttermilk. If you ask me though, that sounds like bread I would eat any day of the year. Boring. As an Irish American, I don’t think my ancestors would hand me over to the British for adding raisins, seeds, or anything else so long as it is in the tradition of recognizing and celebrating my Irish heritage. It’s not like I’m putting Doritos or Coca-Cola in the dough….

So with that said, please enjoy my recipe for Irish Soda Bread as I know and love it!

Irish (American) Soda Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbs. sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 4 tbs. (1/2 stick) warm melted unsalted butter

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together the first 5 dry ingredients into a large bowl. Next, stir in raisins and caraway seeds. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, and butter. Add to the four mixture and stir until the dry ingredients are moistened. Srape batter (which will be sticky) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and form into a large mound. Use a sharp knife and slash a large X about 1/2 inch deep on top of the dough. Bake until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean, approx. 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

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I finally saw the movie Julia and Julia this past weekend. I loooved it! It was funny, clever, inspiring and an overall feel-good movie.

My friend Andrea originally lent me the book, Julie and Julia by Julie Powell, which chronicles her attempt to cook all 524 recipes from Julia Child’s cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year. We were both very excited when we learned they were making a movie! The movie was very true to the book, which I always appreciate. Meryl Streep was (of course) amazing as Julia Child. The voice, posture and mannerisms were dead on. However, we couldn’t figure out how they made her look so tall? (short actors perhaps?). The movie did a very good job of contrasting Julia Child’s attempt to master the art of French Cooking herself in the 1940’s and then her quest to publish her now-famous cookbook of the same name with Julie Powell’s attempt to master Julia’s cookbook while pursuing her dream to become a writer. The parallels were much more evident in the movie than the book- probably because Julie herself didn’t realize just how similar their stories were. Overall, the movie was very well done.

After the movie, we left the theater hungry and inspired to cook something! In the car, Andrea immediately pulled out her phone and began searching the internet for a boef bourguignon recipe (a significant dish in the movie) while I plotted what to do with the pint of delicious plums I bought at the farmer’s market earlier that morning. I dropped her off directly at the grocery store and then headed home to bake these delicious Plum Muffins:



I searched the internet for a good recipe and found this recipe for Plum Yogurt Muffins. I made a few adaptations to the recipe and the result was perfect! I made a tin of mini muffins and a tin of regular muffins. These muffins are very moist, fluffy and healthy to boot!

Plum Muffins

In a large bowl, mix:

  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 T ground flax seeds
  • 3 T orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup safflower oil
  • 2 T unsweetened natural apple sauce

Add each of the following dry ingredients to the bowl (stir to combine after each ingredient):

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup all purpose white flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ cup granulated white sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 3 T wheat bran (or wheat germ)

Fill muffin tins half way and then add a few pieces of diced plum to each. Top off each tin with another tablespoon or so of batter. Top with thinly sliced plums. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes if making mini-muffins or about 15 minutes if making large muffins.



While I won’t be picking up a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking anytime soon (waaay too much meat involved; I do not think I could eat, let alone de-bone, a duck). However, the movie reinforces the message of pursuing your dreams. It encouraged me to get back in the kitchen and to write more. You never know what can happen unless you start doing something, anything, even if it is just writing a blog that no one reads except your mother!

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I love St. Patrick’s Day! It marks the beginning of spring and is really just a silly holiday centered around food, beer and the color green! What’s not to love? We celebrated early this year and had St. Patrick’s Day family dinner on Sunday. I am not a traditional corned beef-and-cabbage kind of girl, so dinner was another test of my culinary comprising skills! We had Irish Soda Bread, Irish Potato Soup (with corned beef) and Spring GREEN Risotto. An enjoyable feast for the meat lovers and non-meat lovers alike (I spooned out some soup before adding the corned beef)!

 

Irish Soda Bread

Bon Appétit, October 2002

 

Ingredients

  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups raisins
  • 3 tablespoons caraway seeds
  • 2 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 large egg

Directions


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an ovenproof 10- to 12-inch-diameter skillet with 2- to 2 1/2-inch-high sides (or cake pan, which is what I used). Whisk the first five ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the butter, using your fingertips, rubbing in until it forms coarse crumbs. Stir in the raisins and caraway seeds. Whisk the buttermilk and egg in a medium bowl to blend. Then add the wet mixture to dough. Using a wooden spoon, stir just until well incorporated (dough will be very sticky!).

Transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Smooth the top, mounding slightly in the center. Use a small sharp knife dipped into flour to cut a 1-inch-deep X in the top center of dough. Bake until the bread is cooked through and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool bread in pan for 10 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.

Irish Potato Soup
adapted from The Daily Green

Ingredients

  • 4 medium potatoes, diced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup corned beef, chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground caraway seeds
  • 112-ounce bottle Pale Ale

Directions

In a large saucepan sauté onion, leeks and celery in butter, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic, cook for 1 minute. Add flour and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Then slowly add milk, and the mixture will start to thicken. Add the potatoes and half of the beer and bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook 20 to 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir regularly to avoid scorching, and add milk as needed if soup is too thick. Add caraway, sour cream and ¾ cup of the cheddar cheese. Wisk until cheese melts and sour cream is incorporated. Add corned beef. Top with chopped parsley and remaining shredded cheddar. Serves 4-6.

Spring Green Risotto

adapted from 2008, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics


Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
  • 1 cup chopped fennel
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 5 cups simmering chicken broth
  • 1 pound thin asparagus
  • 10 ounces frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives, plus extra for serving

Directions

Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and fennel and saute for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. Add the rice and stir for a minute to coat with the vegetables, oil, and butter. Add the white wine and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed. Add the chicken broth, 2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the liquid to be absorbed before adding more. This process should take 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the asparagus diagonally in 1 1/2-inch lengths and discard the tough ends. Blanch in boiling salted water for 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente. Drain and cool immediately in ice water (this step is easier if done right before you begin).

When the risotto has been cooking for about 15 minutes, drain the asparagus and add it to the risotto with the peas, lemon zest, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Continue cooking and adding broth, stirring almost constantly, until the rice is tender but still firm.

Whisk the lemon juice and mascarpone together in a small bowl. When the risotto is done, turn off the heat and stir in the mascarpone mixture plus the Parmesan cheese and chives. Set aside, off the heat, for a few minutes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve hot with a sprinkling of chives and more Parmesan cheese.

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Holiday Brunch

We hosted a Holiday Brunch for our friends this past weekend. We had a buffet brunch, including a champagne bar (mimosas and bellinis), and then our annual cookie exchange and secret santa gift exchange. It was a perfect afternoon celebrating the holidays with friends!

Menu
Champagne Bar
Coffee
Egg Puff Casserole
French Toast Casserole
Spiral Glazed Ham
Biscuits
Citrus Fruit Salad (oranges, pineapple and pomegranate seeds)
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
Assorted Donuts


Baked French Toast Casserole with Maple Syrup

adapted from Food Network TV, Paula Deen’s Home Cooking

Ingredients
1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces) (I used Challah Bread)
8 large eggs 2 cups half-and-half 1 cup milk 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash salt
Praline Topping, recipe follows

Maple syrup

Directions

Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1-inch each. Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish in 2 or 3 rows, overlapping the slices. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Either pour mixture over the bread slices, or dip each slice of bread into the egg mixture making sure all slices are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. I dipped each slice individually to ensure the dish wasn’t too soggy. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and in between each of the bread slices. Bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup.

Praline Topping:

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, 1 cup packed light brown sugar, 1 cup chopped pecans, 2 tablespoons light corn syrup, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well.

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