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Posts Tagged ‘brunch’

Let’s get the important facts out of the way. This coffee cake has three sticks of butter in the cake and another half stick in the topping. If you find this shocking you may want to leave now! ;)

That said, this is the perfect coffee cake for the holidays. I made this last Thanksgiving for breakfast (you just have to go all out on Thanksgiving!) and my family loved it. I am a big fan of fresh cranberries in baked goods and this cake had just the right amount layered throughout. The streusel topping was a nice finish and the toasted pecans added so much.

This Cranberry Coffee Cake would be a lovely treat anytime during the holiday season – take it to work, bring it to a friend or serve it for houseguests. I guarantee it will be a hit…just dont’ tell anyone about the three and a half sticks of butter.

One Year Ago: Good Eats Roast Turkey on the Big Green Egg

Cranberry Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping
(Recipe source Cuisine at Home)

Ingredients:

FOR THE STREUSEL
1/2 stick unsalted butter
2/3 cup flour
1/3 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons orange zest

FOR THE CAKE
1 cup fresh cranberries
2 1/4 cup sugar, divided
Zest of 1/2 orange
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray. Line pan with parchment paper so it hangs over edges to create handles and spray again with cooking spray.

FOR THE STREUSEL
Melt butter and stir in flour, pecans, dried cranberries, sugar and orange zest. Set streusel aside.

FOR THE CAKE
Pulse fresh cranberries, 3/4 cup sugar and orange zest in food processor and set aside.

Whisk together flour, salt, cinnamon and baking powder in bowl and set aside. Whisk together eggs and egg yolk and set aside. Using hand mixer, cream butter and remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar in large bowl. Add flour mixture and egg mixture alternately to butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Transfer half of batter to prepared pan; top with cranberry mixture and then top with remaining batter, smoothing each layer. Use a knife to swirl batter and cranberries and top cake with streusel.

Bake 55 to 70 minutes or until streusel is golden brown and toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 20 minutes before serving.

Yield: 16 servings

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Dinner tonight was supposed to be broiled mahi, roasted asparagus and sweet potato parsnip puree. There was a midafternoon change of plans when Brandon informed me that he just did not feel like eating fish tonight. He is fighting a cold (that I may or may not have given him…oops) and was in the mood for something simple and comforting. I decided to do a spin on breakfast for dinner and made a healthier version of a traditional breakfast casserole.

This casserole features whole wheat English muffins, a few veggies, faux sausage, eggs and cheese. I got the idea for this dish from the Whole Foods website but winged it in the kitchen. The original recipe instructs you to let this sit overnight in the fridge but a one hour soak worked for us. I was able to quickly assemble this before yoga this evening and Brandon put it in the oven so that dinner was ready when I got home from class. Easy and delicious.

If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to cheese, sausage and bacon laden casseroles this holiday season I encourage you to try this recipe! I think you could further lighten it by using a mixture of eggs and egg whites and reducing the cheese. But we loved it just the way it was…a little cheese never hurt anyone!

One Year Ago: Buttermilk Biscuits and Jeweled Rice

English Muffin Egg Casserole
(Recipe inspired by Whole Foods Market)

Ingredients:

4 whole wheat English muffins, halved
2 meatless sausage patties (I used Morningstar)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium tomato, chopped
3/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup spinach, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
5 eggs
1/3 cup skim milk
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
Lots of salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Prepare an 11 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray. Line with English muffin halves and set aside.

Defrost sausages in microwave and crumble. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add tomatoes and mushrooms. Cook for 3-4 minutes and then add sausage and garlic. Cook for another 2-3 minutes and then stir in chopped spinach and dried basil. Season generously with salt and pepper and then spoon over English muffins.

While mixture is cooling on English muffins, whisk together eggs and milk and season with salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture over English muffins and top with cheese. Let rest at least one hour or up to overnight in the fridge.

Remove casserole from fridge while you are preheating oven to 350 degrees. Cook for 40-50 minutes, or until set and cheese is slightly browned.

Yield: 6 servings

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I blogged about making Shaksuka on my healthy living blog a few nights ago. I was surprised that it received a lot of positive feedback and quite a few people have indicated that they would like to make this dish.

A very quick overview of Shaksuka for those who didn’t read my post earlier this week. Shaksuka is a vegetarian dish of Moroccan/Israeli/Egyptian origins. It’s traditionally served as a breakfast item. It’s a spicy tomato broth with poached eggs. The dish is very quick and easy to make and also healthy. I served the Shaksuka with homemade pita bread for dipping. I had the leftovers the next night for dinner and the flavors were even better after they had a chance to develop.

I followed a recipe from Smitten Kitchen with a few modifications. First, I used three jalapeno peppers because I was looking for heat in this dish. I find jalapenos to be pretty hit or miss with the spice level but luckily the ones I picked up at the store were nice and hot. Second, I reduced the garlic to two large cloves. I knew that the five the original recipe called for would be way too much for us. And last, I added turmeric in with the spices. While reading about Shaksuka online I noticed that turmeric was a common ingredient but SK’s recipe didn’t call for it. I have a whole jar in my pantry and love finding ways to use it due to its known anti-inflammatory powers.

This is a fun dish for vegetarians and those who love to try new ethnic recipes.

One Year Ago: Incredulada Enchiladas (one of my”biggest hit” recipes!)

Shaksuka
(Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

2-3 tablespoons olive oil
3 jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon paprika
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
Kosher salt, to taste
6 eggs (I only used 4 because there was just no reason to use 6 for the two of us)
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Warm pitas, for serving

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a 12-inch skillet (that has a lid – don’t use it now) over medium-high heat. Add jalapenos and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, turmeric, cumin and paprika, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.

Put tomatoes and their liquid into a medium bowl and crush with your hands or place in food processor and pulse a few times. Add crushed tomatoes and their liquid to skillet along with 1/2 cup water. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt.

Crack eggs over sauce, cover skillet and cook until yolks are just set, about 5-7 minutes. Using a spoon, baste the whites of the eggs with tomato mixture, being careful not to disturb the yolk. Sprinkle shakshuka with feta and parsley and serve with pitas, for dipping.

Yield: 4 servings

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A break from 68 Days of Gourmet to recap my fun-filled culinary weekend in Atlanta! Several months ago we bought tickets to see Muse and Silversun Pickups in Atlanta. We decided that since we knew so far ahead of time that we were going to be in Atlanta that we should make reservations to eat at Woodfire Grill. It’s the restaurant where Top Chef contestant Kevin Gillespie is co-owner and executive chef.

My parents moved to Atlanta last year and when I visited last summer they took me to Woodfire for dinner. I came home and told Brandon it was one of my top five meals ever and couldn’t wait to take him there. I was so surprised and excited to see last fall that Kevin was a contestant on Top Chef. We watched and rooted him on all season. Even though he didn’t win in the end, I think it’s fair to say that he’s the true winner in all the fan’s hearts! So needless to say, since Kevin enjoyed great success on Top Chef, it’s next to impossible to get a reservation at Woodfire – especially on the weekends. We made our reservations three months in advance!

Our dinner was phenomenal – the food and service was truly outstanding. We were greeted right when we walked in the door and shown to our table. I was excited to find that I had a view of the open kitchen. Our server was extremely knowledgable and friendly and made some great wine suggestions over the course of the night. We chose to do the five-course chef’s tasting dinner. Kevin had decided to go with a Southern theme for the tasting so all of our dishes had a little bit of a down-home feel.

A very quick overview of what we remember from the courses (I should have taken notes – and FYI – Brandon forbid me to take pictures).

First Course
Chef’s take on shrimp and grits – rock shrimp over a grit cake

Second Course
Fried oysters over what I would describe as a cauliflower risotto served with a hot sauce and garnished with watercress

Intermezzo
Horseradish/black truffle deviled egg

Third Course
Veal sweetbreads, a little slice of perfectly cooked lamb, collard greens and a boiled peanut sauce. This was the shining star of the night. Each element of the dish went together and complimented the others perfectly

Fourth Course
Pork belly, slice of pork tenderloin with some sort of vegetable hash. I’m fuzzy on the details here but the pork belly was delicious!

Fifth Course
Curried chocolate molten cake, curried ice cream and a crispy peanut wafer. The curry with the chocolate was interesting…at first you just tasted the chocolate then you really got the curry taste in the finish

After dinner we were able to chat with Kevin for a minute and snag a picture. Of course, I was totally losing my voice over the course of the night and could barely talk by the time we met Kevin – boo! He is so nice and I am so amazed by his talents given he his only 27 years old! So jealous! :)

And I’m sure you’re thinking this post is over now but no…I have more for you! My friend Michelle ended up having a kitchen shower the same weekend in Atlanta. Love when things work out like that! When I arrived at the shower I was so surprised to learn we were having a cooking demonstration! So up my alley!

Chef Natalie in action

The shower hostess hired Chef Natalie Vallo to demonstrate brunch-themed dishes for us. She demoed mini quiches (recipe and picture below), savory palmiers and bistro mustard vinaigrette. It was such a nice change of pace from your typical shower and I loved that Chef Natalie focused on seasonal, sustainable ingredients. If you live in the Atlanta area you should definitely check out her website! She offers all kinds of services ranging from personal chef to special needs diets to cooking demonstrations.

The bride-to-be (right) enjoying the shower and cooking demo

So if you’ve made it to the end of this marathon post, I reward you with the recipe for mini quiches that Chef Natalie made for us Saturday! Sure to be a hit at any brunch!

One year ago: Buffalo Sloppy Joes

Mini Quiche and Easy Food Processor Pie Crust
(Recipe source Chef Natalie Vallo of Food Optimist)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:

FOR THE PIE CRUST
3 tablespoons ice water (plus more if needed)
1 stick butter, frozen and cut into tablespoons
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

FOR THE QUICHE
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
A bit of freshly ground nutmeg
A sprinkle of kosher salt
Freshly ground white pepper, to taste
Fillings of your choice (no more than three) – we had roasted red peppers, sauteed spinach and goat cheese

Directions:

FOR THE PIE CRUST
Add flour, frozen cut butter and salt to bowl of large food processor (at least 9-cup). Hold down and pulse for 10 seconds. Add the 3 tablespoons of ice water and hold down and pulse for 7 seconds. Mixture should resemble cornmeal so if it does at this point move to the next step. If not, add water one tablespoon at a time and pulse for 3 second intervals until you get the cornmeal texture. Be very careful not to overwork the dough.

Gather dough and wrap in plastic wrap for at least 2 hours. Roll out and use as needed. For mini quiches you should be able to fill 12 muffin tins with one pie crust recipe.

You will want to prebake the crust a little for the quiches. Poke holes in the bottom of the crust in tins and line with parchment paper and fill with dry beans. Bake at 375 degrees until crust appears pale and dry, about 10 minutes.

FOR THE QUICHE
Combine everything from egg through pepper in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Place quiche filling the the bottom of the prebaked crusts and pour egg mixture over filling until about 2/3 full. Place the muffin tin on a baking sheet before placing in the oven. Bake for 375 degrees until quiche is set, about 15-20 minutes. Quiche should be about the consistency of jello when you shake. Let cool for at least 20 minutes at room temperature – it will finish cooking.

Yield: 12 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 46

It’s been a great weekend! Full of beautiful weather, spending time with our adorable nieces, running (!!!) and pancakes. As my regular readers know, it’s kind of a tradition of ours to make a big Sunday breakfast. This morning Brandon chose pancakes and turkey bacon. We are usually waffle people and I will totally admit that I am not skilled at making pancakes. They’re just one of those foods I can’t seem to master – kind of sad!

I decide to test out two recipes from The Gourmet Cookbook in hopes that I would find a better, more successful pancake recipe. For Brandon, I chose Ruth’s Pancakes (from editor in chief Ruth Reichl) which were described as the pancake to choose if you needed to “pull out all the stops for an extremely special breakfast.” Given the amount of butter the recipe called for I would hope that you would only use this recipe for special occasions! For myself, I chose Whole Grain Pancakes with plans of covering them in almond butter and Greek yogurt.

The results were interesting. I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the way Ruth’s Pancakes cooked. I tried two different skillets (cast iron and non-stick) and couldn’t seem to get them to cook and brown evenly. Also, they were not as light and fluffy as I hoped. I was going to consider them a failure until I served them to Brandon and his first comment was that they tasted delicious – much better than they looked. I’m guessing that the problems I had with the cooking might have been related to the amount of butter in the batter. These were passable this morning but not the perfect recipe to solve my pancake cooking problems.

On the other hand, the Whole Grain Pancakes totally exceeded my expectations. They were fluffy, perfectly golden, cake-like and had a true whole grain flavor. I don’t know if I loved the addition of cornmeal to the batter because they definitely had a cornmeal taste to them but they were still great. I would definitely make them again. I topped mine with almond butter, plain Greek yogurt and maple syrup. Very filling and stayed with me through a big afternoon.

The weather was amazing here this weekend. Sunny and highs in the 60s. Made it through a 4.5 mile run yesterday with minimal leg pain and minimal post-run soreness. Maybe whatever muscle I pulled is finally healing. Saturday night we headed over to my in-laws house for homemade pizza and visiting time with our cute nieces. I can’t resist sharing this picture with you! Happiness!

I was going to take today off of running and go to my Sunday afternoon yoga class but Brandon suggested a trip out to the U.S. National Whitewater Center for trail running with Sullie and I couldn’t say no! He never wants to run with me so I wasn’t going to pass this opportunity up. We got in about 4 miles and had fun checking out the trails.

It’s been a great weekend! :) Up early tomorrow to teach my 6 a.m. BodyPump class.

Ruth’s Pancakes
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook)

Ingredients:

1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil, divided
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
4 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Whisk together milk, eggs and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a medium bowl. Whisk in butter until combined. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Whisk in egg mixture until just combined. Do not  over mix.

Heat 1/2 teaspoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pour 1/3-cup of batter into skillet, working in batches of three. Cook until bubbles have formed on top and popped, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until undersides are golden brown, about 1 more minute.

Serve immediately with maple syrup or hold in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve.

Yield: 3-4 servings (8 pancakes)

Whole Grain Pancakes
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook)

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for skillet if desired
1 1/2 cups whole milk (I used skim)

Directions:

Whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together yolks, oil and milk. Add to flour mixture and stir until just combined. Let batter rest for 5 minutes, batter will thicken. (If batter is too thick to fall from spoon, add another tablespoon or 2 of milk.)

Beat egg whites with a handheld mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently whisk into batter until well combined.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Brush with vegetable oil (I skipped this because I was using nonstick). Pour about 1/4 cup batter into skillet and work in batches of about 3-4 small pancakes (or freestyle whatever size you want!). Cook pancakes until bubbles appear on surface and begin to pop and edges are set, about 2 minutes. Flip and continue cooking for another minute or 2, until underside is golden brown.

Serve immediately with maple syrup or hold in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve.

Yield: 4-5 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 40

Part two of Sunday’s impromptu brunch. I happened to have all the ingredients on hand for this frittata and it was delicious and easy. A great change from our normal eggs over medium. Also, this really stayed with me all day. I wasn’t  hungry for hours after eating this.

It’s been a busy week so far. I braved the icy roads on Monday morning to teach BodyPump at 6 a.m. Although it was a small crowd we still got a great class in. After work Monday I headed to the Y again to hit the treadmill for day one of my new half marathon training schedule. I really wanted to run outside but there was still a lot of ice on the sidewalks and Brandon told me that my clumsiness + the ice = recipe for disaster. I ran a half mile warm up, 3 miles at tempo speed (about 8:30 pace) and a half mile cool down for a total of 4 miles. After a lot of deliberation I decided to use the Furman FIRST program. I’ll run three times a week – tempo, speed and long. This plan just seemed to work the best for my schedule with teaching BodyPump and maintaining my yoga practice. I don’t think I’d ever want to follow a three day a week program for marathon training (just not enough miles and time on the road) but I do think that it’s great for me to maintain a balance for half marathon training. I’ll keep you guys posted on how it works for me.

Tonight I headed to Y2 Yoga for a hot vinyasa class and it was HARD. The class wasn’t any harder than usual but I think my legs were done after my Sunday yoga practice and two workouts yesterday. My balance was off and I was just sore. But sometimes it’s good to have to dig down deep to make it through. It challenges you in a whole new way – both mentally and physically.

Back to the frittata. I will definitely be making this again. It was a Sunday brunch treat! I think this would be a great dinner too when you’re looking for something simple and flavorful. I think it would be nice with a side salad and a light vinaigrette.

Herbed Ham and Cheddar Frittata
(Recipe source Gourmet, January 1995)

Ingredients:

2 scallions, minced (I used about 2 tablespoons of minced shallot instead – delicious!)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced, or 1/4 teaspoon dried, crumbled
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, minced, or 1/4 teaspoon dried, crumbled
1/4 pound ham steak or thick ham slices from deli, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1/3 cup grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (about 2 ounces)
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Heat an 8-inch heavy, ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, scallions or shallots and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 2 or 3 minutes.

In a bowl whisk together eggs, thyme, rosemary and salt and pepper to taste. Add egg mixture to scallion mixture and cook, without stirring, 2 minutes. Add ham and cook, without stirring, 8 minutes, or until edges are set but center is still soft.

While frittata is cooking, preheat broiler.

Sprinkle cheddar over top of frittata and broil about 4 inches from heat until cheese is bubbling, about 1 minute. Sprinkle with parsley and cut into wedges.

Yield: 2 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 39

At 10 p.m. last night, after a long day of cooking and prep for my niece’s 2nd birthday party, I announced that I was tired and over cooking for a while. I told Brandon if he wanted breakfast this morning he would have to brave the icy road conditions to go get bagels. And then I woke up and found myself in the kitchen making muffins and a frittata. Guess I just needed a good night’s sleep to turn my attitude around!

We got several inches of snow/ice in Charlotte this weekend. That pretty much means that normal life comes to a halt in the South. The roads are super icy and I was worried that the birthday party would be cancelled. They decided to go ahead and have it so I spent all of yesterday preparing the butterfly cupcakes, ham and cheddar pretzel bites and fruit skewers. Blog updates to come soon with the butterfly cupcakes and pretzel bites. Cannot wait to share the cupcakes – they came out better than I hoped and were a huge hit!

I took yesterday as a rest day – the weather was terrible and I had so much cooking to do. We took Sullie for a walk this morning. She had so much fun playing in the snow. This afternoon I went to my favorite yoga class at Charlotte Yoga. Just the best way to wrap up the weekend and get my mind ready for the week ahead.

I made a lot of modifications to the Applesauce Spice muffins. The original recipe called for almost a stick and a half of butter. That just was not happening this morning! I ended up using about 4 tablespoons of  butter (half a stick) and subbing 1/3 cup of plain yogurt for the rest of the butter. Also, I used half wheat flour and reduced the sugar. Felt much better about eating two of these delicious muffins this morning with those changes. They are tender, not too sweet and have a great apple spice flavor. A great way to mix up my normal banana muffin routine! The recipe below is my modification so check out the link below for the original recipe.

Applesauce Spice Muffins
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, November 2003)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:

FOR THE MUFFINS
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup pecans or walnuts (3 1/2 ounces), coarsely chopped

FOR THE TOPPING
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

Preaheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare 12-muffin pan with cooking spray or cupcake liners.

Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, brown sugar and yogurt until well-combined. Slowly stir in butter, whisking until mixture is creamy. Stir in applesauce, then fold in flour mixture until flour is just moistened. Stir in nuts and divide batter among muffin cups.

Mix together topping ingredients and sprinkle over muffins. Bake about 20 minutes, until tops are puffed and golden. Cool in pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 12 muffins

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