Monday, January 31, 2011

Floral Valentine Wreaths vs Floral Arrangements

Lately I've been seeing a lot more floral wreaths as an option for Valentine's gifts instead of  the obligatory dozen red roses for Valentine's Day. This idea was reinforced to me when Williams Sonoma sent out their Valentine's email today suggesting some of their wreaths as gifts for the holiday. 

I couldn't be happier for this new trend.

There is something so much more appealing to seeing flowers in a different form other than a vase and who wouldn't want to come home and see this on their door. Which would you rather have: A flower arrangement in a vase or a dried/fresh flower wreath instead?

  1. Lavendar Heart Wreath from Williams Sonoma
  2. Heart Rose Wreath from Williams Sonoma
  3. Sweet Rose Wreath from Williams Sonoma
  4. Rose Centerpiece Wreath from Martha Stewart

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Creamed Spinach with Sunny-Side-Up Eggs

The breakfast after a chocolate cardamom pancake breakfast should probably be a little more healthy to balance it out. 

Not too healthy but healthier.

So armed with my latest Bon Appetit, I looked for a new breakfast recipe that would hit that criteria. I found a recipe for  Sunny-Side-Up Eggs on top of Mustard-Creamed Spinach.  That will work.  It was a great way balance a weekend of great breakfasts and pump myself up for a long and busy week. I'll probably be longing for these breakfasts by Tuesday morning but then there is always next weekend.

Sunny-Side-Up Eggs On Mustard-Creamed Spinach 

3 tsp Dijon mustard
1 9 oz package fresh spinach leaves
3 tbsp half and half
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
2 large eggs

Add enough water to a deep large nonstick skillet to cover bottom.  Add spinach; toss over high heat to wilt, about 2 minutes.  Scrape into sieve set over bowl; press out liquid.  Wipe out skillet; reserve.

Transfer spinach to medium saucepan.  Add 3 tsp mustard, half and half, and chopped thyme.  Stir over medium heat until thick, about 3 minutes.  Season with freshly ground black pepper.  Remove from heat.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in reserved skillet over medium-high heat.  Crack eggs into skillet, spacing apart.  Fry until whites are cooked through, 3-4 minutes.  Divide spinach between 2 plates, spreading out as base for eggs.  Top with eggs, crumbs, and thyme sprigs.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Chocolate Cardamom Pancakes with Orange Glaze

Cooking with different spices is a great way to grow as a cook/baker.  Cardamom is one of the newest spices in my cabinet that I've started playing with. I first discovered it when I was making an Ethiopian recipe which called for a spice rub called Berbere.  Since I had cardamom I decided to continue to experiment with it. 

And then there is Valentine's Day.

Since Valentine's is on the horizon I wanted to create a new recipe for a romantic breakfast as a follow-up to last year's chocolate pancakes with caramel banana topping.  I stayed with the chocolate because there is no better excuse to have chocolate for breakfast than Valentine's Weekend. As I contemplated a new recipe, I thought of the spiciness of the cardamom and how it would go so well with the cocoa powder and an orange glaze to top.

I was right. You will love this combination for a special breakfast on Valentine's Day. These chocolate pancakes aren't too sweet which is good, because the glaze will provide a brightness and add the sweetness you need.

Chocolate Cardamom Pancakes with Orange Glaze
2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
5 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cardamom
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups whole milk

Orange Glaze
1 cup orange juice
1 cup sugar

Combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar  and cardamom in a mixing bowl. Add the eggs and milk and whisk. Take a large cookie scoop (or just a ladle if you don't care about how uniform they are) and pour batter in a preheated pan/skillet on medium to medium high heat. Garnish pancakes with fresh mandarin orange slices and orange glaze.

For the orange glaze combine the sugar and the orange juice in a sauce pan on medium high heat. Reduce down until the sugar is dissolved and the consistency is syrup-like. Let cool slightly before pouring over the pancakes.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Homemade Mozzarella Sticks

When I first married I remember watching the Food Network all the time. I watched everything from Barefoot Contessa to Everyday Italian. I was still learning recipes and what you could actually make on your own. It had to be one of the first Superbowl's as a married couple that I tried to make all the football faves as a special present to my husband. 

The menu consisted of wings, little meatball parmesan hoagies. Then I saw on "Everyday Italian" a way to make your own mozzarella sticks. I was definitely on board to make something I thought you could only buy in the frozen food section. It was a great recipe for a young cook. Since the Big Game is upon us I was looking through some old print outs and found my attempt at this which went extremely well. Something everyone should try as a fun snack to watch a great football game.

Mozzarella Sticks (Giada De Laurentis)


  • 1 1/2 cups Italian-style dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/3 cups freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 (16-ounce) blocks pasteurized mozzarella cut into 4 by 1/2-inch sticks
  • 4 large eggs, beaten to blend
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 4 cups Marinara Sauce, recipe follows


Stir the bread crumbs, 1 cup of Parmesan and 1 teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl to blend. Dip the cheese in the eggs to coat completely and allow the excess egg to drip back into the bowl. Coat the cheese in the bread crumb mixture, patting to adhere and coat completely. Place the cheese sticks on a baking sheet. Repeat dipping the cheese sticks in the egg and bread crumb mixture to coat a second time. Cover and freeze until frozen, about 2 hours and up to 2 days.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Working in batches, fry the cheese until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Transfer the fried cheese to plates. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and serve with Marinara Sauce.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mocha Rice Pudding

You can't plan a good idea.

Since I work pretty hard during the week, I try to plan out my domestic escapades during the weekend. No matter how hard I try, sometimes my plan just doesn't go the way I want it to. Sometimes I just want to curl up on the couch with a large vat of coffee and try to feel normal again.  

Then there are other times when I'm a creative machine.  I only have my fellow bloggers to thank for for my creativity.  It's a great collaboration. This is how I came to come up with this recipe. My husband had just passed me an afternoon cup of coffee as I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Made. 

I was looking at her easy rice pudding recipe. I've made so many different rice pudding recipes but this one was super easy and I thought - "I've never made a mocha flavored rice pudding yet!"  So I ran into the kitchen and started coming up with a recipe.  It was the perfect combination of coffee, vanilla bean and rice pudding.  It's one of my favorite new dessert recipes.

Mocha Rice Pudding (Based on a recipe from Dana Made It)
3/4 cup long-grain white rice
5 cups milk (I used whole milk but you can use any type)
 1 cup fresh brewed coffee
2 tbsp Ovaltine (or cocoa mix)
1 vanilla bean
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
dash of cinnamon
dash of nutmeg (ground or fresh grated)

Bring the rice, vanilla bean, coffee and milk to a boil, stirring constantly about 10-15 minutes. Reduce to a very low simmer, stirring occasionally, and cook until the rice is soft and the pudding becomes thick (30-35 minutes).  Take the vanilla bean out and scrape the seeds into the rice pudding. Remove from heat and add sugar, ovaltine, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Let the rice pudding cool and put in small dishes. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Cooking Essential - Kitchen Island

When my husband and I were given the opportunity to purchase a renovated cottage as our first home we jumped at the chance. I loved the character and the details the house had that other newer housed just never had. 

I didn't love the functionality of the kitchen.

For a long time I made due with the lack of counter space and cabinets. I bought a distressed looking pantry cabinet and tried to be extremely organized enough to work on counter space the size of a large cutting board.  After a while I just gave up and started looking for kitchen islands. Finding the perfect kitchen island is akin to finding meaning in a Vin Diesel movie. 

It's not easy...

So for a few years I searched and searched for one. I never thought to look at Ikea. We didn't have one in our city and it never occurred to me until I found it on their website. It was called Stenstorp and when I saw it in person it was though light was shining down on it and I had finally found the one...

For those of us with small kitchens we have to make due with what we have but ever since I got that kitchen island, I feel like I finally have a space I can call my own.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mini Bundt Cakes for Valentine's Day

Even with all the options for decorating and decorating cupcakes, sometimes I really get tired of them. So I just use my go to cupcake recipe from Nigella and then pull out my mini bundt pans and pour them into those molds instead. 

Then the fun begins. 

I've stocked up on Valentine's glitters and sprinkles so I decided to pipe a dab of cream cheese icing on top and make those little cakes as sparkly as possible.  I know we have a few weeks until Valentine's but I'm having so much fun working my way up to it.

Nigella's Fairy cakes Recipe
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
7 Tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup self-rising cake flour *
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
(May use 1/2 teaspoon almond extract instead of the suggested 1 tsp.vanilla extract.)
2-3 Tablespoons milk

Directions :
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line a 12 cup muffin tin with baking paper cups.

Put all the ingredients except for the milk into a food processor and blend until smooth.
Pulse while adding the milk down the funnel to make for a soft consistency. (I use the full 3 Tablespoons)

It doesn't seem like enough batter, but it will all work out, scrape every bit from the bowl and try to fill each cup equally.

Bake for 15-20 or until they are golden on top. (These are perfectly baked in 14 to 15 minutes @ 375* in my oven) It's best to start checking them at 12 minutes.

Icing for Fairycakes
8 oz cream cheese softened
8 oz unsalted butter softened
7-8 cups confectioners sugar
3-4 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla

Monday, January 24, 2011

Double Crust Chicken Pot Pie

I'm in a winter funk and I'm pretty sure that the only thing that will pull me out of it is comfort food.

There are important questions before us. These questions include:  Is there anything more comforting that pie? For an actual meal is there anything more comforting than a pot pie? Yes, there is something more comforting. It's called a double crusted pot pie. 

I was hibernating this past Saturday when I got the newest issue of Southern Living. I poured through it when I saw a beautiful looking recipe for Double-Crust Chicken Pot Pie. So I made it for Saturday night dinner. Thankfully I keep a stash of puff pastry in my freezer and leeks in the veggie drawer of my refrigerator. The end result was a delicious fluffy crust and a creamy savory filling.  

Make this delicious recipe before winter is over. You won't regret it.

Double Crust Chicken Pot Pie (Southern Living February 2010)
1/2 cup butter
2 medium leeks, sliced
1/2 cup flour
3 cups cooked chicken
1 14.5 oz can of chicken broth
1 1/2 cups frozen cubed hashbrown with onions and peppers
1 cup matchstick carrots
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 (17.3 oz) package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add leeks, and saute 3 minutes.  Sprinkle with flour, cook stirring constantly, 3 minutes. Whisk in chicken broth; bring to a boil, whisking constantly.  Remove from heat; stir in chicken and next 5 ingredients.  Roll each pastry sheet into a  12x10 inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface.  Fit 1 sheet into a 9 inch deep dish pie plate; spoon chicken mixture into pastry.  Place remaining pastry sheet over filling in opposite direction of bottom sheet; fold edges under, and press with tines of a fork, sealing to bottom crust. Whisk together egg and 1 tbsp water, and brush over top of pie.  Bake at 375 degrees on lower over rack 55 to 50 minutes.  Let stand 15 minutes.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hashbrowns With Curry Powder

 There has to be a million breakfast recipes out there. 

With all of those possibilities sometimes the only thing I'm certain of on the weekends is I'm going to have coffee. Most of the time I feel I have to make a whole new recipe. Other times you add a single spice and make something entirely new. 

I've said in earlier posts that I'm a little obsessed with curry spice lately. I used it in a wonderful Eric Ripert recipe and I added it to scrambled eggs and chickpeas recently. I didn't think to add it to my potatoes. Thank goodness it came to me as I was scouring my spice cabinet this morning. I added 1/2 tsp to my chopped fingerling potatoes as they were in the frying pan. It was an easy way to have a new breakfast.

I'm thankful for my for spice cabinet.

Curried Hashbrowns

10 fingerling potatoes sliced
Olive oil (for frying pan)
1/2 tsp curry powder

Heat your frying pan to medium high with olive oil (around 2 tbsp). Add the fingerling potatoes. Season with salt and add the curry powder. Fry until the potatoes are crisp on the outside and cooked through.  Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Miniature Chocolate Cakes For Valentine's Day

There are so many great chocolate cake recipes out there today. 

For some reason I keep coming back to the Hershey recipe on the cocoa container. You might get better quality cocoa but you won't get a more moist and delicious cake. I've used it in birthday cakes,  anniversary cakes and cakes for no reason at all. 

The reason for this cake is pretty obvious. There are so many great takes on desserts that you can do for Valentine's Day. There are cupcakes, cakes, tarts, cream puffs and so on. I'm here to tell you that if you make a really good chocolate cake, you won't go wrong. It's easy and delicious and you can put your Valentine's spin on it by baking it in a heart shaped pan or by cutting out heart shapes with cookie cutters. 

So what I did was bake a two later cake. I then made the chocolate frosting and frosted the cake. (don't assemble the layers) Let it chill in the refrigerator. Then I made this chocolate ganache recipe and poured it over the two layers. Put the cake in the refrigerator and let the ganache set. Then I cut the heart shapes out of the cake layers and added sprinkles. 

For Valentine's Day it's a perfect way to serve individual desserts.

Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
  2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
  3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING. 10 to 12 servings.

    ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

    THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

    BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.

    CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.

    "Perfectly Chocolate"Chocolate Frosting
  4. 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
  5. 2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
  6. 3 cups powdered sugar
  7. 1/3 cup milk
  8. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Short Ribs With Dried Apricots

In keeping with my New Year's resolutions I've made sure to cook through another magazine. 
This time a great recipe from Country Living caught my eye: it was for Short Ribs. Short ribs are one of my all time favorite things to make. Could it be easier to sear the ribs and then leave them to braise on the stove for a few hours while you attend to your normal weekend chores? 

I didn't think so. 

This recipe adds a new twist on short ribs with dried apricots. After the ribs were done cooking the apricots and the kitchen smelled wonderful the apricots seemed to melt into the sauce. It was delicious and perfect for a winter weekend meal. Another great perk is leftovers. Just take the leftover short ribs and put them in a corn tortilla with tomatillo sauce and pepper jack cheese and you have a great lunch.

Red Wine-And-Apricot Braised Short Ribs (Country Living January 2010)
3 1/2 pounds short ribs
4 garlic cloves
3 cups dry red wine (Syrah)
3 tbsp coarse-grain Dijon mustard
2 cups (11 ounces) dried apricots

Season short ribs with salt and pepper.  Working in batches brown ribs in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat, about 4 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.  

Add garlic to pot and cook over medium heat until browned, about 2 minutes.  Add wine and mustard and stir, scraping up browned bits from bottom of the pan.  Add apricots and reserved ribs and increase heat to high, bringing liquid to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low, co, cover pot and simmer until ribs are so tender that meat falls of the bone, about 3 hours.  Skim excess fat from braising sauce. (Alternatively, after step 1, add browned ribs and all other ingredients to a slow cooker and cook on low, following manufacturer's instructions, until ribs are so tender that meat falls off the bone, about 8 hours. Serve meat and apricots in a shallow bowl with braising sauce. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

DIY Gardening: Seedling Growing Cart

There is nothing that makes me angrier than seeing items cost a large quantity of money that if you put a little thought to it, would be easy to make. Recently, I saw a growing cart on a garden supply website. Basically it was a wire shelving until with growing lamps attached to each shelf. 

It cost $500.

I do find a growing cart extremely useful when starting seedlings in early February (for those in the Southeast - according to the Farmer's Almanac). I had multiple flats of seedlings that I started way to late last year that could have benefited from a structure with multiple levels and growing lamps. I was resolved to create my own.

What you'll need;
Wire shelving unit (3 shelves) ($35)
(3) growing lamps ($8 each)
(6) S-Hooks
Power strip

The first thing you'll have to do is put the shelving unit together. The great part with the wire shelf that I got at Walmart was that you could adjust it to any height you wanted. I made the top two shelves compatible with flats of seedlings and the last more compatible for taller seedlings/plants to provide a progressive experience once my seedlings and even bulbs got taller but weren't transplanted yet. 

Once the shelf is put together it's time to attach the growing lamp to the top of each shelf. Each growing lamp has a holes on the back to allow you to attach it to a number of different items. I found a small S-hook works perfectly. I bought two hanging plant kits to obtain different sizes of S-hooks. The smaller 1-inch ones fit perfectly. Insert one end of the hook in the top and rotate it 1/4 turn. Repeat on the other side and then hang on the wire rack above the shelf. Repeat for all three lamps. 

Then take the cords and with a twist tie run the cords toward the back pole and down to the bottom. Plug them into the power strip.

Total for my Growing Cart $75.  Growing your own plants from seeds? Priceless....

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Spiced Coconut Pancakes

It's always a good idea to save recipes that have no eggs, butter or milk. 

It's not that I necessary agree with a vegan diet, but eventually you are going to be out of one of those ingredients. Then you'll have the hard decision to go to the grocery or eat a pop-tart. When I saw this recipe in the most recent addition of Bon Appetit I flagged it for a weekend breakfast option. Was I out of any of the dairy options that I love so much? No I wasn't out of those ingredients. The recipe was worth a try to make sure I could keep it in my arsenal. 

This healthier recipe had a lot of elements I appreciated. I loved the flavor from the coconut milk and the texture from the coconut flakes (the recipe calls for unsweetened but I used sweetened). The only thing I would bring up is that if you are expecting a sweet pancake this isn't the one to look to. Hopefully when you see the 2 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour you'll start to understand. However, a nice dose of maple syrup on top will put that right.

Spiced Coconut Pancakes (Bon Appetit January 2011)
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp baking soda
(1) 13 1/2 oz can of unsweetened coconut milk
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
Vegetable Oil

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Whisk first 6 ingredients and 3/4 tsp salt in large bowl.  Whisk coconut milk, 1 1/4 cups warm, water,  2 tablespoons maple syrup, and vanilla, in medium bowl.  Whisk coconut milk mixture into dry mixture until batter is pourable.

Heat griddle or skillet over medium-high heat; brush with vegetable oil.  Working in batches, add batter by 1/4 cupfuls.  Working quickly and using back of spoon, spread each pancake to about 4-inch round. Cook until until small bubbles appear on surface and bottoms of pancakes are golden, reducing heat if browning too quickly, 2 to 3 minutes.  Transfer to baking sheet. Keep warm in oven.  
Place 2 to 2 pancakes on each plate. Top with maple syrup, sliced bananas or tropical fruit (as shown in Bon Appetit)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hot Dogs With Poblanos, Pepper Jack And Tomatillo

There is a type of sweet poetic justice finding a gourmet hot dog recipe in the January issue of
Bon Appetit. 

I'm so used to seeing health conscious meals in the beginning of the year. While most are glued to the healthy fish & chicken recipes, I'm eyeing the recipe on how to make a hot dog - already a delicious treat - even more delicious. This is awesome. The melted Pepper jack cheese with caramelized onions and poblanos were out of this world. 

If you want to take a break from the healthy meals this January, this is the recipe I would start with.

Hot Dogs with Poblanos, Pepper Jack and Tomatillo
2 tbsp olive oil
3 Poblano Chilis cut into 1/2 inch wide strips
1 large onion sliced
6 uncured hot dogs or flavored sausages
1 cup purchased salsa verde (tomatillo salsa)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
6 hot dog buns
2 ounces hot pepper Monterey Jack cheese, thinly sliced
Crumbled Cotija cheese or feta cheese

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add poblanos and onion; sprinkle with salt. Saute until chiles soften 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer mixture to bowl. Add hot dogs to same pan. Add 1 cup water; cover.  Boil until heated through, 5 minutes. 

Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Combine salsa verde and cilantro in small bowl.

Place 1 hot dog in each bun; place on baking sheet. Cover each with slices of cheese. Broil until cheese melts, about 2 minutes. Top with chile-onion mixture; then Cotija cheese and salsa.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Kale for Breakfast - Two Ways

Fennel biscuit with a fried egg, thick-cut bacon and kale

 January always marks the month that I buy a lot of leafy greens and other superfoods.

I put them in my pantry and refrigerator and try to figure out what to do with the ingredients in order to make them staples in my diet and not victims of the trash can.  This time I decided to buy a rather large head of kale and try it out. Last weekend while I was planning my weekend breakfast menus I looked in my refrigerator to see a rather imposing head of kale and I figured it was time to get started.

One of the things I made was a breakfast biscuit with thick-cut bacon and a fried egg. The kale took the place of lettuce to make it a sort of breakfast "club" sandwich. In order to add a little flavor I decided to add a couple of teaspoons of fennel powder to the biscuits which would also go well with the thick-cut bacon. 
Kale and Fingerling Potato Frittata
The next breakfast is one of my favorites - the frittata. I tend to use the frittata as a way to use up any fresh ingredients I have left in my refrigerator from the week prior. You can come up with such creative combinations of flavors by doing this and have a great breakfast. When I sauteed the kale it was different than spinach which seems to reduce almost instantly and reduce to a fraction of its former size. The kale wilted slightly but had a lot more texture and was delicious in the frittata. I combined it with fingerling potatoes and some crumbled goat cheese.

These two recipes proved that kale is a great addition to your produce list and an even better idea for breakfast.

Fennel Biscuits
2 cups self-rising flour
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 - 3/4 cup buttermilk or milk
2 tsp fennel powder

Cube the butter and cut into the 2 cups of self-rising flour with the fennel powder added. With your hands massage the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse sand. (You can test this by gathering a handful of the flour in your hand and it will hold together into a ball)  Add the milk or buttermilk until it comes together into a dough (just add the 1/2 cup first and add more if you need it).  Flour a surface on your counter and roll out to about 1 inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter round and put on a cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes. 

Kale and Potato Frittata
8 eggs
1 cup chopped kale
8 fingerling potatoes (sliced)
1/4 cup goat cheese
1/2 chopped onion
3 cloves chopped garlic
salt and pepper to taste

In a 10 inch frying pan saute the chopped onion and garlic until softened on medium high heat. Add the potatoes and fry them until they are cooked through then add the chopped kale and fry until slightly wilted and softened. In a mixing bowl beat the eggs and add salt and pepper to taste (I tend to use 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp pepper)

Add the eggs and sprinkle the goat cheese on top.  Cook the frittata on the stove top until the eggs start to set on the sides, put it under your oven broiler on low until the frittata cooks through (in the middle especially). Let it cool slightly and then turn the frittata out on a large cutting board. It should come out of the frying pan as one piece and then you can slice it like a pie.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Curried Eggs with Chickpeas

Can someone say SNOW DAY?!
In Chattanooga there aren't many times when you can say those two words unless you are a teacher.  However, at the last minute I got an email and before I knew it I was planning a special breakfast for my husband and I.

I've had a recent love affair with curry after making this delicious Eric Ripert recipe. So I added a teaspoon of curry and some chickpeas and top with feta. Add some thick-cut bacon and a couple slices of fresh bread and you will be ready to go out and make your first big snowman.

6 eggs
2 tbsp olive onion
1/2 chopped onion
2 cloves of chopped garlic
1 12 ounce can of chickpeas
2 tbsp feta cheese
1 tsp curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet heat the olive oil on medium high. Add the chopped onion and garlic. Saute until onions are translucent. Add the chickpeas and cook until heated through. In a mixing bowl, whisk 6 eggs with 1 tbsp of water. Add the curry powder. Add into the skillet and scramble the mixture. Top with crumbled feta cheese.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Scenes from Christmas 2010

There is nothing sadder than taking down a Christmas tree. 

Now that we're about to close the first week of the New Year and as I take the Christmas decorations down I thought I would revisit my favorite scenes from Christmas 2010. I would have done this earlier but the flu kept me from a lot of my plans during the holidays.

Either way we were able to get the first white Christmas in Chattanooga, TN in about 26 years. So we were blessed to have some amazing highlights and photos to share. Thankfully we have this year to look forward to and more memories to make.

My husband Toby and our two dogs roughing it in the snow.

Our dog Hero with her Christmas present

My Snow Villages (a gift from my dear friend Becky Conner) were one of the hightlights of my Christmas. I loved every moment they were up.

Happy New Years!!!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Nutella Oatmeal Cookies

I'm in love with nutella. I will put it on everything and continue to try to find more ways to incorporate it into recipes. So as I was creating new types of oatmeal I saw the recipe on the back of the oatmeal container guessed it - Oatmeal cokies.  So enter a few changes here and there (substituted self-rising flour for the flour and leavening agents) and tweaked the ratios and I came up with a delicious cookie with a nutella flavoring. 

One thing I've noticed is that if you put too much nutella into a recipe - it becomes incredibly rich and overpowering. So this time I only put 1/2 cup of nutella into the recipe and the result is a slight flavoring that compliments the cookie and doesn't over power it. 

If we are going to be eating more oatmeal for National Oatmeal Month we mind as well have it in cookie form as well.

1 3/4 cup of self-rising flour
8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter softened
2 eggs
3 cups quick cook oats
1/2 cup nutella
3/4 cup white sugar
1 1/4 brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups chopped walnuts

Combine the butter and sugars together in a mixer with the paddle attachment and mix until fluffy (a couple of minutes). Add the nutella and then the eggs one at a time. Add the vanilla and cinnamon. Then put the flour in 1/2 cup a time until mixed through. Add the quick cook oats and take off the mixer. Fold in the walnuts with a spatula. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 14-16 minutes.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Oatmeal Recipes for National Oatmeal Month

I've definitely made some New Year's resolutions this year. One of them is to listen to my husband's rants about eating a good breakfast during the week and actually do it. This isn't an easy task. The only thing I truly want in the morning is a bowl of coffee. Then when I feel human again, I can think about food. 

Since the New Year (appoximately 3 days and counting) I've held on to eating breakfast in the morning. I've been eating that granola I made last week and it's been great. The unfortunate thing is I get bored really easy. So when I was perusing facebook recently it was perfect timing when I saw Bon Appetit remind everyone that it's National Oatmeal month. Which is another perfect idea for breakfast that takes relatively little time to assemble in the morning. Especially if you use quick cook oats. Somehow plain oatmeal isn't sexy enough so here are a few ideas you can use that you probably have in your pantry on an every day basis.

  1. Mix in your favorite jam - It will provide a little sweetness to the oatmeal and your favorite fruit
  2. Try different spices - Cardamom, Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Allspice can add a little zip to your oatmeal
  3. Dried Fruit and nuts - I love throwing in whatever I have on hand and I feel I don't get as hungry as fast when I add nuts to my morning cereal or oatmeal
  4. Fruit Juice - ok this is a new one for me. Instead of water or milk I added Orange Juice and it came out great. The oatmeal equivalent of a creamsicle.
  5. Fresh Fruit - This way you can make your oatmeal seasonal
This are just a few of my tips. Hopefully they give you the ability to create your own oatmeal masterpiece. Here are a few of my own.

Orange Creamsicle Oatmeal
1/2 cup quick cook oats
1 cup orange juice
1 tbsp milk or cream

Combine and cook in a microwave for 1.5 to 2 minutes. Until it thickens. Top with a little sprinkling of sugar and milk or cream for the full creamsicle effect.

Cardamom Walnut Oatmeal
1/2 cup quick cook oats
1 cup milk
2 tbsp chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 tbsp brown sugar

Combine and cook the first two ingredients in the microwave for 1.5 to 2 minutes until it thickens. Top with walnuts, cardamom and sugar.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Blueberry Croissant French Toast

For my first post of the New Year, I thought it would be perfect to talk about my New Year's Day breakfast. Eating breakfast more regularly is also one of my New Year's resolutions. During the weekend, eating breakfast seems as natural as breathing. The weekdays are more about getting as much sleep as possible and dashing out the door with a large cup of coffee.
This New Year's Eve we had a few friends over to say goodbye to the challenges of 2010. For New Year's day breakfast I always try to be prepared. The last thing I want to do is make breakfast after a long night. The first thing I want to do is pop something in the oven while I nurse my first cup of coffee. With New Year's, it's always a possibility that someone may stay over. So I got the idea, when I was planning for the food for New Year's Eve, to also make a new French Toast Casserole. 

Then I saw the mini croissants in the bakery and got a revelation.

The were day old mini crossaints (they were on sale). I purchased them and knowing I had some leftover blueberry jam I went about making a new breakfast recipe. All you have to do is slice the croissants in half and slather them with jam. Put the sandwich in a 13x9 glass baking dish and repeat for about 20-25 mini croissants. If you have normal sized croissants you can do the same thing just use half as many.  In the morning all you have to do is pop the casserole and a cookie sheet with thick-cut bacon and you're all set. I love weekend breakfasts. Now I just have to start to love it on the weekdays.

Blueberry Croissant French Toast Casserole
15-20 day old mini croissants
Approx 8 oz of your favorite jam
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups of half and half
2 tbsp brown sugar (to sprinkle on top)

Slice your croissants in half and slather the jam in between to make a sandwich (don't be stingy!) Stack the croissants side by side in a greased 13x9 glass pan. (if you use a metal pan baking time may fluctuate) Squeeze the croissants together so that there is single layer of croissants with no holes in between. In a separate mixing bowl combine the eggs and half & half. Whisk together and pour over the croissants. Push the croissants down to make sure the mixture is distributed evenly. Put plastic wrap over it and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. On day of baking take it out and let it come to room temperature. Sprinkle the brown sugar on top and place in a 375 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until cooked through.

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