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Breakfast, Brunch, Nosh

Strawberry & Goat Cheese Baked French Toast

January 7, 2015
Strawberry Goat Cheese Baked French Toast_Table

This cold knocked me down pretty hard. I was out for the count most of the weekend, dragging myself off of the couch for all of four hours to have our friends over to the house to watch the UFC fights instead of our original plan to head to this gastropub we love that airs them. Needless to say, I headed to bed before the main event. I did get to watch four movies in a weekend though and that never happens, so there’s always a positive side, right?

Back on New Years Eve, we had a small get together, and I made up a cheese and charcuterie spread on our table. I used parchment paper as a table runner, then wrote out the names of the different meats and cheeses down the length of the table. I garnished it with some olives, peppers, dried fruit, fig spread, pretzels, crackers, and baguette rounds.

Like always, I had a lot of leftovers, including a freezer bag of the baguette rounds. Once I started feeling a bit better, I headed to the kitchen to do something about them. I was antsy with cabin fever, craving a comforting breakfast, and eager to not waste an entire baguette. Breakfast and creating something new always boosts my mood.

This Strawberry & Goat Cheese Baked French Toast is not too sweet and the goat cheese adds a nice contrast to the dish. Broiling the top gives it an almost caramely texture that I love. Oh, and of course there was bacon.

Strawberry & Goat Cheese Baked French Toast

Strawberry & Goat Cheese Baked French Toast

Strawberry & Goat Cheese Baked French Toast

Strawberry & Goat Cheese Baked French Toast

What you need
  • About 48 baguette rounds (1/2 inch slices)
  • 3 cups unsweetened almond/coconut milk blend
  • 7  large eggs
  • 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 jar (15.25 oz or ~ 1 1/2 cups) Polaner All Fruit strawberry preserves (or another of your choice)
  • 3 Tbsp. orange juice
  • 4 oz. goat cheese
Make it
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Lightly beat eggs, vanilla extract, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl
  3. Whisk in milk, until well combined
  4. In a greased casserole dish (9×13 or similar), lay one layer of baguette rounds
  5. Spoon eggs mixture over first layer, leaving enough for the next layers
  6. Continue until all bread has been used. Press down lightly on the bread, so that all of the mixture can be absorbed.
  7. You can optionally let this sit anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight to soak up more of the mixture. (I let mine sit for two hours, while Adrian was out running errands)
  8. Before you bake it, add preserves and orange juice to a small saucepan over medium and allow it to thin a bit for pouring (3-5 minutes)
  9. Pour preserves over top of the casserole
  10. Slice or crumble the goat cheese and top the french toast with it
  11. Cover the casserole with tinfoil and bake for 30 minutes
  12. Remove tinfoil and bake for 10 more minutes
  13. Now broil the top until the cheese browns a bit. (6 minutes for how I have it)
  14. Let cool, top with syrup if desired, and enjoy!

Strawberry & Goat Cheese Baked French Toast

Does a weekend “wasted” frustrate you as much as it does me or do you go with the flow and enjoy the down time?
Breakfast, Brunch, Nosh

Cheesy Grits, Bacon, & Asparagus Frittata

December 31, 2014
Cheesy Grits, Bacon, & Asparagus Frittata

Yay, New Years Eve! Our last day of 2014. I’m really looking forward to good food, good friends, and all the champagne punch I’m going to make. We’re also doing a beer tasting countdown, where we all try one winter beer for each month of the year. It should be a great evening and the comfort of celebrating at midnight in our own home makes it even better for me.

I couldn’t have been more lucky in 2014, but I am still very excited for 2015. In 2014, we bought a new house, got married, and got our puppy, but there’s something about a new year’s fresh start that always brings me optimism and glee. I plan to share my resolutions… but first, I want to bring you breakfast for tomorrow (or brunch, depending on how much punch you’ll be having!)

Cheesy Grits, Bacon, & Asparagus Frittata

So, Adrian goes on kicks with food. He loves having something over and over until he tires of it. We’re very different this way because I would almost never make the same thing twice (unless it’s a breakfast or lunch staple) if it weren’t for him. Now, I try to switch up his kicks, while still giving him what he wants.

Cheesy Grits, Bacon, & Asparagus Frittata

One of his recent benders has been grits. I’ve only recently tried grits for the first time. It was always just a Southern staple to me that didn’t seem all that appealing… that is until I had a taste and actually really enjoyed them! They’re versatile in that you can prepare the dish savory to sweet and I’m definitely a fan of that. Adrian has been enjoying cheesy grits with eggs for our weekend breakfasts, so I wanted to come up with another way to bring them to the table. Hello, Cheesy Grits, Bacon, & Asparagus Frittata and welcome to the new year!

Cheesy Grits, Bacon, & Asparagus Frittata

It sounds kinda weird, right? Trust me, it’s not. The cheesy grits act as a faux crust, putting a classic frittata right over the edge. If you’ve never tried grits before, try them this way. Oh, and you should probably serve it to the guests you’ll be partying with tonight too if they stay over. You can thank me tomorrow morning, after your leftover-champagne mimosa!

What you need
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup quick cooking grits
  • 1 1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese (I used sharp white)
  • 1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 lb. center cut bacon
  • 1/2 fresh asparagus bundle
  • 1/2 of a large yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup whole milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. whole grain Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Make it
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare grits according to package, but cook 3-5 minutes longer to thicken. Once finished, add 1 cup of the cheddar and the 1/2 cup of Monterey Jack cheese and mix well. Set aside.
  3. Chop bacon and cook over medium in a large pan. Once bacon begins browning, add in the onion, and cook until translucent and bacon is cooked, but not crispy. In the last minute of cooking, add the asparagus.
  4. Remove bacon mixture from heat and drain grease.
  5. Whisk eggs, milk, cayenne, mustard, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
  6. In a greased pie dish, lay a layer of cheesy grits in the bottom.
  7. Cover grits with bacon and asparagus.
  8. Pour eggs over top and push down any asparagus poking through. Sprinkle the rest of the cheddar on top.
  9. Bake frittata for 30 minutes or until the frittata’s center doesn’t jiggle.
  10. Let cool and serve. Enjoy!

Cheesy Grits, Bacon, & Asparagus Frittata

 What are your plans for tonight? Have you already made a list of resolutions for the new year?
Breakfast, Brunch, Dessert, Nosh

Darling Clementine Skillet Cake

December 18, 2014
Candied Clementines_2

A tradition I adore, but isn’t typically practiced in my area, is finding a clementine in the toe of your stocking on Christmas day. They are the cutest little gifts and fit perfectly in the palm of your hand. How sweet!

Darling Clementine Skillet Cake

Did you know clementines are the result of an accidental pollination between a tangerine and sweet orange, found by Father Clement Rodier in the gardens of his orphanage in Algeria?

Darling Clementine Skillet Cake

I was interested in how the Christmas clementine tradition began and was brought back to the story of Saint Nicholas, formerly Bishop Nicholas, of Turkey. There are many variations, but if you haven’t heard them, the story goes there was a man with three daughters, too poor for dowries to marry them off. Bishop Nicholas was known to be a generous giver. He visited the home at night and threw a bag of coins (sometimes pictured as gold balls) down the chimney, landing them in the stockings left to dry on the fireplace. These coins became represented by the clementines children find in their stockings today.

Darling Clementine Skillet Cake

This lovely tradition is one I plan to bring to my family when we have children. (Even if they won’t be as excited about it as I will be!)

Darling Clementine Skillet Cake

I have been buying clementines all season and wanted to find a use for them other than snacking on them whole. I’ve also been wanting to try out different creations in my new skillet, so without further ado, here is my Darling Clementine Skillet Cake. Oh, my darling, clementine!

Darling Clementine Skillet Cake

Candying the fruit is surprisingly easy and it comes out wonderful!

Darling Clementine Skillet Cake

What you need
  • Candied clementines
    • 2 clementines, washed, ends removed, and thinly sliced
    • 2 oz. Cointreau (or another orange-flavored liqueur)
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 clementines, peeled and pureed (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
Make it

Candied Clementines:

  1. Combine Cointreau, water, and sugar in deep frying pan
  2. Over medium heat, stir mixture until the sugar is dissolved
  3. Add the clementines to the pan in a single layer
  4. Allow the clementines to cook until the syrup evaporates some and the clementines begin to crystallize, flipping them halfway through (this will take about 20 minutes start to finish)
  5. Remove clementines from pan and place on greased dish to cool

Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a cast iron skillet*, melt the butter and remove from heat
  3. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top
  4. Arrange candied clementines over the brown sugar
  5. Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry
  7. Blend well, either by hand or in a mixer
  8. Pour the batter over the clementines and brown sugar
  9. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
  10. Let cool for 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge if it needs to be loosened
  11. Cover your skillet with a large plate and flip

*I used a 12-inch skillet. If you are using a 10-inch, increase the baking time to about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Then, let sit for 20 minutes before flipping the cake over.

Darling Clementine Skillet Cake
What’s your favorite holiday tale? Do you have any traditions you’ve always admired?
Breakfast, Dessert, Nosh

Cranberry Spice Sopapilla Cheesecake

November 25, 2014
Cranberry Spice Sopapilla Cheesecake_ Feature

Sopapillas…Puffed, fried, sweet, triangles of desire. Pretty hard to resist. BUT did you know when you cross them with cheesecake, you’re left with a scrumptious sopapilla cheesecake baby? That’s a union to be proud of.

I have made sopapilla cheesecake quite a few times, along with its pumpkin spice better half, and it’s always eaten up in a hurry! It’s so easy to make and sometimes you just need a quick crowd-pleaser, right? I love cooking and baking from scratch, but I really love no-brainer creations too! For this recipe the seamless dough sheets really make a difference in kitchen time.

Cranberry Spice Sopapilla Cheesecake

 

What you need

  • Homemade cranberry spice sauce*
    • 1 cup of fresh cranberries
    • 1/3 cup orange juice
    • 2 Tbs. sugar
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/8 tsp ginger
    • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 8 oz cans of Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations Seamless Dough Sheets (or 2 cans of crescent rolls and just pinch the seams)
  • Filling
    • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 Tbs. cinnamon
    • 1/8 tsp. ginger
    • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Topping
    • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
    • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (based on your preference)
    • 1 Tbs. cinnamon

 

Make it

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the ingredients for the cranberry spice sauce and bring to a boil. Let simmer for about ten minutes, until thickened. Let cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  3. In a large mixing bowl, blend softened cream cheese, sugar, and spices
  4. Fold in cooled cranberry spice sauce
  5. Lay one sheet of the seamless dough in the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 baking dish
  6. Spread filling over dough
  7. Lay the second sheet of seamless dough over the filling
  8. In a saucepan or microwave, melt the stick of butter
  9. Pour over top of the cheesecake
  10. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar blend evenly over the butter
  11. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the center sets (if it is not completely set, it will set after you let it cool and even more once chilled.)
  12. Cool and chill before cutting

Cranberry Spice Sopapilla Cheesecake

 Gooey cranberry goodness. If you chill them, they firm up nicely too.

Cranberry Spice Sopapilla Cheesecake

 Buttery, cinnamon sugar crust.

 

*You can also used the canned cranberry sauce if you prefer, but may lack a bit of the tartness that the fresh cranberries provide.

This recipe was inspired by Pillsbury’s Sopapilla Cheescake Bars

 

What are some ways you cut kitchen time with your favorite effortless concoctions?

Breakfast, Brunch, Dessert, Nosh

Cranberry French Toast Stick Pudding

October 8, 2014
Cranberry French Toast Stick Pudding

We have a ton of leftovers from the brunch…  I forced quite a few doggy bags of bagels, croissants, and muffins on our guests as they left, and we still have way more than Adrian and I can eat (especially with the wedding coming up, I don’t have time to gorge on carbs!)

I froze most of the croissants (I’ll be doing something with them soon!), rolls, and bagels, and then looked through the rest of the stock. We still had a big batch of already-baked french toast sticks left and something needed to be done with them! What I like about this leftover recipe is that it’s totally customizable.
We had granola and dried fruit left from the yogurt toppings, so I decided to throw that in. Then the glaze helps to get rid of the bulk tubs of cream cheese I bought from BJ’s. You get the idea. I bet eggnog would be a great add in for a richer pudding for the holidays too!

Here’s what you need:

  • Glaze
    • 4 ounces cream cheese (about a half of a cup), room temperature
    • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 3-4 Tbsp. milk
  • 16 oz thawed French toast sticks (If you try using frozen, let me know how it goes!) – since mine were left over, it was just under the the 16 oz, but if you’re making your pudding fresh, that’s a standard box size
  • ¼ cup granola of choice
  • ¼ cup dried orange-cranberries (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cran-Bread-Pudding-in-Pan-1

Make it:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 F
  2. Cut your sticks in thirds (or break ’em up however)
  3. Top the toast pieces with the dried cranberries and granola
  4. Mix eggs, milk, 3 T brown sugar, and vanilla extract in a bowl, then add the liquid mixture to the pan
  5. Now, press the french toast down to soak up liquid
  6. Sprinkle with the other tablespoon of brown sugar
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, remove from oven, then cover with tinfoil – cook for 20 more minutes or until firm
  8. While it’s baking, make your cream cheese glaze.
    1. Beat cream cheese until very creamy.
    2. Beat in powdered sugar.
    3. Stir in vanilla.
    4. Add 3 tablespoons milk.
    5. Totally combine. (Add more milk to get desired consistency)
  9. After letting the pudding cool a bit, top with your cream cheese glaze and serve!

Note: I can be super impatient and I didn’t let the cream cheese get to room temp (plus our prehistoric microwave called it quits at our brunch!!) so it’s a tad lumpy. Just make sure you do or soften it in the microwave at ten seconds intervals or so.

 

Cranberry French Toast Stick Pudding