Shakshuka with Feta Cheese 

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I love a dish that uses pantry ingredients, and Shakshuka is a great breakfast dish that does so. It serves 4-6 people, and with hot naan and hot tea, this was so good!

Ingredients

3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne, or to taste
1 large or two small cans fire roasted diced tomatoes, with juices (can sub out 1 smaller can for Ro-tel if you like things spicy)
1 tsp kosher salt, to taste
¼ tsp black pepper, to taste
5 ounces feta, crumbled (about 1 1/4 cups)
4-6 large eggs

Chopped cilantro, for serving  (use more than shown in the photo – I was almost out!)
Hot sauce, for serving

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low. Add onion and bell pepper. Cook gently until very soft, about 20 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Add garlic and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes; stir in cumin, paprika and cayenne, and cook 1 minute.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Pour in tomatoes and season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; simmer until tomatoes have thickened, about 10 minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Stir in crumbled feta. Using a larger spoon, create one little “crater” for each egg, and gently crack the eggs into them. Season eggs with a little more salt and pepper.

Transfer skillet to oven and bake until eggs are just set, 7 to 10 minutes. Check the whites to be sure they are cooked. (Unless you like uncooked egg whites, but ugh – not me!) IF you really like your yolks cooked, let it cook a little longer.

Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with hot sauce and warm naan, pita bread or whole wheat tortillas.

Good Morning Muffins/Breakfast Bars

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Beautiful image by Jason Leung – Unsplash

Our local realtor sent another postcard with a wonderful recipe and I can see this becoming a staple in our kitchen. It’s listed as a muffin, but is more dense and chewy – more like a breakfast bar.

Ingredients:

1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup oats, ground finely
1 1/2 cups oats, old fashioned whole
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cup wild blueberries (or mix of strawberries and blueberries)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all but the berries well. Then gently fold in the berries, saving a few for topping. Fill 12 muffin cups right to the top. (These muffins have no leavening agent, so they won’t rise.)  Top with remaining berries.

Bake for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Caitlin’s Curried Avocado Toast

avocados

Avocados by twinsfisch on Unsplash

Caitlin, my son’s fiancee is a wonderful cook and she made curried avocado toast the other day that was delicious. Don’t know why I never thought of putting a spin on avocado toast, but why not?  Avocados are not a common food in the Indian Subcontinent at all, but putting those flavors together is incredibly good.

Ingredients:

1 avocado, seeded and peeled and very slightly mashed in a bowl
sprinkle of curry powder (Caitie used Madras Curry Powder)
pinch of Cayenne pepper
quick grind of black pepper
sprinkle of Maldon Salt

Toast a good, hearty bread. Scoop avocado onto toast and sprinkle with rest of ingredients. Devour.

Variations: Caitie also suggested an alternative of avocado, salt and pepper and chopped fresh rosemary, which I will definitely try. She also said avocado toast made on Herbes de Provence bread is amazing. I have a feeling this is going to be a summer of Avocado Toast at our house!

Tangy Fruit Salad

Another great recipe from Ree Drummond, that’s both pretty and delicious.  I ended up halving Ree’s original recipe, which serves 12, and still had more than enough for the 6 of us, with plenty left over for nibbling later.

The Orange Vanilla sauce adds just enough sweetness and tanginess to brighten everything up without being too sweet.  We loved it and had leftover fruit and syrup on vanilla ice cream the next day.

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
juice of 1 orange
zest of 1 orange
1 tsp Vanilla extract
2 pints strawberries, hulled and halved
2 pints blueberries
1 cup red grapes, halved
1 cup green grapes, halved

INSTRUCTIONS

Place the sugar, water, orange juice and orange zest into a small saucepan and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 to thicken slightly. Set aside to cool, then stir in vanilla. Store in the fridge until cold.

Mix together all the fruit in a large bowl and refrigerate.  Just before serving, pour the syrup over the fruit, tossing gently to coat.

 

Migas: Tex-Mex Egg Casserole

 

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With just a little cheddar melted on top.

Last Sunday all the kids were home so we had brunch. Maya requested Baked Apple Pancakes. I also made Migas and a tangy, fresh fruit salad – both recipes from the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. These eggs were ridiculously delicious, especially paired with the pancakes and fruit.  I’ll add the fruit salad recipe later, but here is the best new breakfast dish I’ve had in a long time!

INGREDIENTS

4 corn tortillas
1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes and peppers, with most liquid drained off (Ree uses 4 plum tomatoes and one seeded and deveined Jalapeno, chopped)
1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped
1 large onion, chopped
12 eggs
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Cotija cheese, grated (may Use Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Etc.)
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1/4 cup Half-and-half

In a bowl, whisk together eggs and half & half. Add salt and pepper and set aside.

In a large, cast iron skillet over medium heat, heat 1 Tbsp of of oil and fry each corn tortilla just until crisp. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Chop tortillas into 1″ squares and set aside.

Then in the same pan, melt the olive oil with the butter. Add onions and bell peppers and cook until starting to turn brown/black, about 7-8 minutes.  (You may need to turn up the heat a bit.)  Add in Rotel tomatoes and stir around, then add tortilla pieces, stirring gently to combine.

Reduce heat to low.

When the heat has decreased, pour egg mixture into skillet. Stir gently to cook with the peppers, folding mixture very gently as it cooks. This just take a few minutes. Add in grated cheese and chopped cilantro, and stir to combine.

Crazy delicious!!

Spiced Apple Oatmeal

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Gorgeous Photo by Roberta Sorge on Unsplash

Still using up apples from an overly ambitious purchase and remembered that Lied Lodge in Nebraska City serves an apple oatmeal that is sweet, spicy and so good!

I’ve made many versions of their oatmeal, using apple butter and spices, but we really like this version where you make the applesauce right in the pan before you add the oatmeal. It’s slightly less sweet, but easy to add syrup, honey or brown sugar if you want.

Many recipes call for apple juice but I find this one so apple-y you don’t really need it.

Ingredients

2 apples, peeled, cored and grated. (I used Galas.)
1 tsp butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch cloves
pinch freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups water
2 Tbsp brown sugar

In a medium saucepan, melt butter and add apples, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and vinegar. Cook on low heat stirring occasionally until the apples are soft, 7-8 minutes.

Add oatmeal, water and brown sugar and stir well. Increase heat until it begins to simmer, then reduce heat to low, cover and let cook for 10-12 minutes. Serve with a little half & half and a dusting of cinnamon. If you prefer it a little sweeter, drizzle maple syrup, honey or sprinkle a little more brown sugar over.

Note: You can use whatever oatmeal you have on hand. Just adjust cooking time accordingly. For very long-cooking oatmeal, keep an eye on the liquid and add a bit more water if it’s getting very dry. Also very tasty topped with chopped walnuts.

No time to cook the apples? Just substitute 1 1/2 cups applesauce for the apples.

You can also make this in a crockpot for overnight. Just cook the apples separately, and add everything to your crockpot the night before, set the heat to low and cook 7-8 hours.

Spinach & Cheese Quiche

We had a full house in August, and for brunch one Sunday morning, I decided to make quiche. But I needed a hearty vegetarian version, as some of our guests don’t eat meat. This one was quick, delish and disappeared in no time!

I’ve posted a spinach and cheese quiche previously, but this one is a little different, and uses a lot more spinach and cheese.  (Whenever possible, I like to double or even triple the normal amount of vegetables in a dish, without compromising on the flavor.)

If you have the time, you can make a home-made pie crust, adding some of the same seasonings that are in the quiche, but a pre-made crust is so much quicker.

1 Pre-made pie crust, thawed

5 eggs
1 cup milk
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (a microplane makes it super easy!)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 cup butter
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, finely chopped
4-5 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
2-3 cups of sharp Cheddar Cheese

Preheat oven to 375.

Lay pie crust in a quiche pan and set aside. (It will be too small, but that’s fine.)

In a bowl, mix eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

In a large frying pan, melt butter. Add onion and saute until translucent and slightly golden. Add garlic and saute a couple of minutes more. Start adding spinach by handfuls, stirring as it wilts.

Scoop onion/spinach mixture into crust and smooth out in a fairly even layer. Sprinkle cheese over spinach. Carefully pour egg mixture over the spinach and cheese.

Bake for 45 minutes. Check to see if done by wiggling the dish slightly. If it is still “sloshy” in the middle leave in a few more minutes. It will continue solidifying as it cools.

Let cool 10 minutes and then serve.

Note: if I’d had them, I’d have sauteed and added a package of sliced mushrooms.  You can also try a different cheese – Gruyere or even part Gruyere would be delicious.  And you can use almost any vegetable, but make sure to dry it out through sauteing, or squeezing liquid out so it doesn’t dilute the egg mixture.

Enjoy!

Spinach, Bacon and Cheese Quiche from Paula Deen

Something about the combination of spinach, cheese, bacon and eggs just sings to me, and this is a great dish for Sunday morning brunch because it comes together so easily. Paula uses Swiss cheese, heavy cream and less spinach, but the recipe is pretty flexible and we like this version a lot.

Ingredients

7 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups half ‘n half
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
a little freshly grated nutmeg (just a good pinch, really)
1/2 package bacon (or turkey bacon) diced, cooked and drained
2 1/2 cups chopped raw spinach
1 cup each Cheddar and Mexican cheese (Paula uses all Swiss Cheese)
Ready-made pie crust (or homemade) placed in a quiche pan

Mix eggs, half ‘n half and spices well in a medium sized bowl. In the quiche pan lined with pie crust, place the bacon, spinach and cheese. Pour the egg mixture over and bake at 375 for 40 minutes. Yum!

Maya’s Brown Butter Banana Bread

Maya is home for the summer and baking quite often, which we are definitely going to miss when she goes back to school. (That girl can bake!) Recently she made up a new way to make Banana Bread  – kind of a “Bananas Foster” version that is unusually rich and delicious.

Ingredients:

9 Tbsp butter
2 large or 3 small ripe bananas, peeled and mashed with a fork
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla

Melt butter in a medium saucepan on low heat, and leave on heat until it turns a light brown. Then add 2 Tbsp of the brown sugar, stir and add mashed bananas. Stir over low heat for 2 minutes. Add the rest of the sugar, and stir for 3 more minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in egg and add flour 1/3 cup at a time, stirring after each addition Finally, add baking soda, salt and vanilla and stir gently.

Pour into buttered pan and bake at 350 for 50 minutes. May need to bake a bit longer – just look for doneness.

This produces a very rich, dense banana bread – almost more like a steamed banana pudding, but it is absolutely delicious.

Over the Top Sweet & Savory Waffle Bar

For our family potluck Easter brunch this year, we did a Waffle Bar – and I may have gotten a bit carried away.  But it was so much fun! People brought amazing salads, veggie sides and a wonderful egg casserole, and we made waffles.

Ali and Caitlin had visited Waffle Up! in Denver and loved their waffles, so I gleaned some ideas from their online menu and we added a few of our own.

I found a great Belgian waffle recipe from Taste of Home that I modified a little, and tried a vegan waffle recipe that I wasn’t too thrilled with.  Will continue to work on that and post it if I find a good one.  If you are making a gluten-free batter be careful to only use one waffle iron for it to avoid cross contamination.

Warning – this is a long post – as we offered a lot of toppings!

Here’s my waffle recipe:

4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 generous Tbsp baking powder
3 cups whole milk
1 cup butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix milk, sugar, vanilla and melted butter in a large pitcher. In a separate bowl, mix flour and baking powder. Dump flour mix on top of the liquid mix and blend gently, until you have no large lumps. Don’t overmix the batter. It’s way easier to pour the batter from a pitcher.

Heat waffle irons and either spray with a vegetable spray, or use a small cooking brush to brush oil on the irons between waffles. Pour enough batter onto each section of the waffle iron to about half fill it. It will expand and nearly fill the whole section during cooking.

Keep waffles warm in a 200 degree oven with a sheet pan flipped over them.

Prep the toppings (can do many of them in advance) and keep them in small bowls with a little tag that identifies them. Print out and display your recommended “toppings recipes”. We also suggested that people cut waffles up and make waffle “bites” so they could try lots of different toppings.

Savory topping Supplies:

1 lb. Bacon or turkey Bacon, baked or fried and diced
1/2 cup fresh Basil, rolled and cut into thin strips
Brie
*Cinnamon Apple Butter (Add a little cinnamon to regular apple butter)
*Fig Jam
2 cups crumbled goat cheese
6-7 slices of prosciutto, diced
3-5 Green Onions, sliced into 1/4″ rings
Maple Syrup

Spicy Sausage gravy
1 lb. spicy breakfast sausage
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
3 cups of hot milk (Can add more if gravy is too thick.)
1/2 tsp Lawry’s seasoned Salt

Cook sausage in frying pan. Add flour and stir for a few minutes, until the flour is just starting to brown. Add the salt, pepper and Lawry’s and continue stirring. Slowly add the milk whisking to combine. Cook for another 10 minutes or so – stirring often – until it thickens. Check seasoning.

With these toppings, you can make:

Bacon, Basil & Brie with Cinnamon Apple Butter on the side
Brie and Apple Butter
Bacon with Maple Syrup
Fig Jam, Goat Cheese, Prosciutto with a garnish of Basil
Spicy Sausage Gravy with a garnish of green onions

Sweet toppings:

Fresh strawberries, washed, and sliced into 1/2 slices
Fresh raspberries, blackberries and blueberries (we used frozen organic blueberries and they worked great.)
5 Bananas, cut into disks
*Nutella
Sweetened Whipped Cream

*Vanilla Mascarpone Cheese
1 container Mascarpone
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp brown sugar

Blend together. Could probably use Cream Cheese as well. Add more brown sugar if you like it more sweet.

Honey Nutmeg Sauce
1/2 cup honey
1/2 stick butter
1/4 tsp fresh nutmeg

In a microwave safe bowl, heat everything together for 1-2 minutes in the microwave.
Stir well and serve in a pitcher.

Caramel Apple Pecan Mix:
4 apples, peeled and sliced
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Saute apples in butter until they start to soften. Add brown sugar and cinnamon, and cook stirring constantly until sugar is nice and melted – about 3-4 minutes. Add pecans and stir to blend.

Bananas Foster Topping
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons rum
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Melt butter, add brown sugar and cinnamon and cook for a few minutes until they’re nicely blended. Add rum and cook a few more minutes until you can no longer smell alcohol when you smell the steam. Add vanilla extract and remove from heat.

With these sweet toppings you can make:

Fresh Berries (any kind) with whipped cream
Fresh fruit (Strawberries and/or bananas) with a drizzle of Nutella and whipped cream
Strawberries with Vanilla Mascarpone Cheese
Bananas with Honey Nutmeg Sauce
Caramel Apple Pecan Topping
Bananas with Bananas Foster Topping

*These toppings work best in a ziploc bag, with the filling squeezed down towards a lower corner, and the the top of the squeezy part secured with a rubber band. Then just cut a little corner of the bag off, and store the bag in a bowl. You’ll need to cut a slightly bigger opening for the Mascarpone cheese and the fig jam as they’re pretty thick.

Arrange all the toppings in pretty little bowls, and the waffles on a big platter.  Make sure to display the suggested toppings combinations.  Our favorites were the Fig Jam, Prosciutto, Goat Cheese and Basil, and the Vanilla Mascarpone with Strawberries.  But really all of them were good and fun to try.