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Breakfast

Baked French Toast with Cinnamon-Maple Applesauce

My friend Marcel got a promotion at work so I invited him over for brunch on the holiday Monday. He’s a little more health conscious then me, but still loves anything sweet and cinnamon-y. I searched through a ridiculous number of cool, books and decided about creating a hybrid recipe using  the ingredients from this Cooking Light recipe but baking the toast in the oven instead. Bad news – I forgot to spray the cookie sheet. Good news – it was still darn good! The real star was the apple sauce. Although it’s springtime, the apple and cinnamon combined with the real maple syrup screamed autumn. I am going to make this a go to recipe come September/October, but its great any time of the year.

To bake, preheat the oven to 350F degrees and bake for about 7-8 minutes until the egg mixture has set.

I forgot to take a pic of course, so please enjoy this photo from Cooking Light – probably my favourite cooking publication 🙂

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Maple French Toast

Ingredients

3/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
12 (1-ounce) slices day-old white bread (such as Pepperidge Farm sandwich bread)
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
Cinnamon-Maple Applesauce (recipe below)

Preparation

1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a shallow dish.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Working with 4 bread slices at a time, place bread slices into milk mixture, quickly turning to coat both sides. Remove bread slices from milk mixture. Add bread slices to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove toast from pan. Repeat procedure with cooking spray, remaining 8 bread slices, and remaining milk mixture. Sprinkle powdered sugar evenly over toast.

Cinnamon-Maple Applesauce

I used prepared applesauce instead of making it from apples, about 2 cups, and simmered for 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup water
8 cups chopped peeled apple (about 8 medium apples)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Preparation

1. Combine syrup and 1/2 cup water in a Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Add apple, cinnamon, and nutmeg; cover and cook over medium-low heat 25 minutes or until tender. Mash apples with a potato masher. Cook, uncovered, 20 minutes or until most of liquid evaporates. Serve warm or chilled.

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Mother’s Day Goodies

Not much is going on over here except I’ve been recovering from the head cold of doom! I missed two days of work and ended up in the E.R. because my body didn’t like my meds 😦 Needless to say, I haven’t been cooking much. But I was feeling halfway decent on the weekend. The little Miss had a play date on Saturday and Sunday I spent in my night gown, cooking up a storm. Breakfast was a mishmash of two recipes I’ve made previously – those amazing Cheddar Garlic Biscuits and the Boursin Cheese Sauce I made a while back. Sooo goood! For lunch my guy BBQ’d some pork tenderloin, and in the afternoon I made Cinnabon Cake. For dinner I made slow cooker Honey Garlic Chicken. It was pretty good but lacking a little depth. I think Steve and I are developing a taste for spice, so next time we might add a bit of warmth to the dish, plus a touch more garlic. I’ll post the recipe once it’s perfected. 🙂

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Garlic Cheddar Biscuits

Every once in a while I get the biggest craving for biscuits – last weekend was one such time. The itch needed to be scratched and this was the recipe to do it! From what I hear they’re reminiscent of Red Lobster’s biscuits. To rack up even more comparisons (and the saturated fat content) I melted some butter and added garlic powder, then drizzled it on top of the biscuits before serving. *drool* This unassuming recipe from Canadian Living Magazine actually beat out Ina Garten’s biscuits for top spot on my all-star recipes list. They’re so fluffy and flavorful! And a bonus – you don’t need buttermilk or extra large eggs.

These biscuits can accompany just about anything. I made some wicked breakfast sandwiches with them and ate an extra couple as-is! They would also go well with soup, and of course sea food! Dangerous my friends. East coast cook-out here we come!

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Quick Cheddar Biscuits

Ingredients:

1-3/4 cups (425 mL) all-purpose flour

4 tsp (18 mL) baking powder

1 tbsp (15 mL) granulated sugar

1 tbsp (15 mL) dried parsley

1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

1/2 tsp (2 mL) garlic powder

1/4 cup (60 mL) butter, cubed

1 cup (250 mL) shredded old Cheddar cheese

1 cup (250 mL) milk

Preparation:
In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, parsley, salt and garlic powder. Using pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add Cheddar cheese and milk, mixing with fork until ragged moist dough forms. Drop by 1/4 (50 mL)cupfuls, 1-1/2 inches (4 cm) apart, onto greased baking sheet.

Bake in centre of 425°F (220°C) oven until lightly browned, 13 to 15 minutes. Makes 12.

Garlic Butter Topping

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Whisk together ingredients, then brush on top of the biscuits right after you take them out of the oven. Sooo good!

Trisha Yearwood’s Speedy Baked Beans

I’ve been meaning to make baked beans for months now and have dried beans hiding out in my pantry, but I’m intimidated by the whole soaking thing. Last week I bit the bullet and decided to do a trial run of sorts using canned beans. A quick google search resulted in this little gem from Trisha Yearwood. I’ve only ever eaten the bottled version of baked beans so I have nothing to compare it to, but I must say I really like these. The sauce is like candy and bacon mixed together so how can you go wrong? And the best part – it was ready in about an hour.

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Trisha Yearwood’s Baked Beans

1 lbs bacon
1 large vidalia onion; chopped
4 cans (15 oz) pork and beans
1/2 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup light brown sugar; (packed)
2 TBL prepared yellow mustard

Preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Fry the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp.

3. Remove the bacon from the pan, leaving the drippings, and drain it on paper towels.

4. Crumble and set aside, if you didn’t already chop it.

5. Pour out and discard all but 4 tbsp. of the bacon dripping.

6. Add the onion to the pan and saute until softened, about 7 minutes.

7. Stir in the beans, molasses, sugar, mustard and bacon. Mix well.

8. Pour the beans into a 3-quart casserole dish and bake, uncovered for 45 minutes.

Traditional Irish Soda Bread

Last week fopr St. Patrick’s Day I finally got around to attempting to make Irish soda bread. Boy am I kicking myself for not trying this sooner. It couldn’t be any simpler to make and the payoff is ridiculous! In Indigenous cultures here in Canada and the U.S. we make something called bannock which is a dense, quick bread and I was thinking soda bread would be very similar. It is and it isn’t. It’s as easy to make but because it uses buttermilk or sour milk (1 cup of milk with a Tbsp of white vinegar to curdle it) the soda bread is more tender and cake-like. I love it! The dough may have been a little too soft at the beginning so I added two more spoonfuls of flour to keep it from sticking to my hands too much, kneaded it a few times and it made a lovely little lumpy mound of dough. And I have a feeling I could have left it in the oven for 5 more minutes as well or perhaps made my cuts deeper so that the centre cooked as much as the corners. I think the next time I make it, it will be even better! This quick bread isn’t destined for just St. Patrick’s Day, you can make it any day of the week!

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Traditional Irish Soda Bread

4 cups (1 L) all purpose flour, (can substitute 1/2 the all purpose flour with whole wheat)

1 tbsp (15 mL) granulated sugar

1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda

1 tsp (5 mL) salt

2 cups (500 mL) buttermilk (I used sour milk as described above)

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, baking soda and salt. Make a well in middle of the flour, and add buttermilk all at once.

Use your hands to mix buttermilk into flour to form a soft dough.Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Lightly knead the dough a few times to make a smooth ball.

Place loaf onto parchment-lined or greased baking sheet. With sharp knife, score a large ‘X’ on the top of the dough. Bake in the centre of a 425 F (220 C) oven for about 35 minutes. The loaf is done when browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Serve warmed with butter and honey.

Additional information : Spotted Dog Variation:
Add 1 cup (250 mL) raisins or currants and 1 tsp (5 mL) caraway seeds (optional) to the flour

Ham + Smoked Cheddar Breakfast Bake

Ham + Smoked Cheddar Breakfast Bake

I’ve been trying to get rid of the Christmas weight and it hasn’t been easy, especially on the weekends. This past weekend I really wanted to do the breakfast bake thing that I had hoped to do over the holidays so I went through my cookbooks to try to find one that fit in an 8×8 pan. Then I discovered I don’t have a metal 8×8 pan! lol I do have my new brownie pan so I made one inspired by a recipe in the Cook’s Illustrated cookbook. For fillings we chose smoked cheddar, ham, and bacon. We didn’t have any breakfast meats available so Steve went to the grocery store and by the time he got back, we were running out of time. A couple of shortcuts ended up making things a little problematic. I forgot to toast the bread first which I think lended to it’s overly wet texture the first time I took it out of the oven, so I suggest not skipping that step. And I was short on time so I only chilled it for 30 minutes and took it out for about 10 minutes before putting it in the oven. I don’t think it quite had enough time to come up to temperature because when we took it out after 55 minutes it was still too wet in the middle. I put it in for another 20 minutes and it was much better. When we reheated it the next day it was even better. The flavours were lovely. Next time I would try adding some shallots or green onion to the mix, but other than that, I think this one’s worth putting in the extra effort next time.

Note: You can play around with the meat, cheese, veggie combos, just pay attention to the egg to bread ratio. C.I. original recipe has, 1 1/2 cups half and half, and 1/2 cup dry white wine reduced to 1/4 cup. I used all half and half and omitted the wine.

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Breakfast Strata

8-10 slices supermarket French bread (½-inch thick) or Italian bread (6 – 7 ounces)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces ham steaks, and a half a package of bacon
Table salt and ground black pepper, 3 shallots diced (optional)
6 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, grated (about 1½ cups)
6 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves or about a tsp of dried

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 225 degrees. Arrange bread in single layer on large baking sheet and bake until dry and crisp, about 40 minutes, turning slices over halfway through drying time. (Alternatively, leave slices out overnight to dry.) When cooled, butter slices on one side with 2 tablespoons butter; set aside.

2. Cut the ham steaks into 1/2 inch cubes and set aside. Cook bacon either in a frying pan or in the oven, until just cooked. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Transfer to medium bowl with the ham and season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Butter 8-inch square baking dish with remaining 1 tablespoon butter; arrange half the buttered bread slices, buttered-side up, in single layer in dish. Sprinkle half of meat mixture, then ½ cup grated cheese evenly over bread slices. Arrange remaining bread slices in single layer over cheese; sprinkle remaining meat mixture and another ½ cup cheese evenly over bread. Whisk eggs and parsley in medium bowl until combined; half-and-half, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread layers; cover surface flush with plastic wrap, weigh down (soup cans or juice boxes are great), and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

4. Remove dish from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature 20 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Uncover strata and sprinkle remaining ½ cup cheese evenly over surface; bake until both edges and center are puffed and edges have pulled away slightly from sides of dish, 50-60 minutes. Cool on wire rack 5 minutes; serve.

Plans for Christmas

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As I mentioned in an earlier post, we can’t go home to Newfoundland and Labrador for Christmas  this year. 😦 This will be my first holiday season that I won’t be spending with my family and I’m pretty bummed about it. The kids grow so fast, plus we have two new additions, a boy and a girl. The little boy Chase was born during our trip in November so I was pretty stoked about that but Little Grace was born last week so we haven’t had a chance to meet her in person, just enjoy the pics on Facebook. We will facetime with everyone on Christmas day so we can sort of join in on the festivities, at least via webcam.

Christmas in Labrador is not just a family affair but a community affair. Unannounced visits are the norm so homes are always packed with snacks and sweets for whomever drops by. Regional favourites include cloudberry pies and tarts, partridgeberry pies and tarts, raisin bread, boiled cake, chocolate snowballs, and more recently 5-star bars. My Mom always makes these “coffee congo bars” and my sister Nicole begs for them every year. There’s usually some no-bake cloudberry cheesecake as well. My birthday is also during the holidays so I get to choose the dessert and it’s almost always a cheesecake or cupcakes. For Christmas and New Year’s the main feast always includes roast Canada Goose. I’ll be missing out on a lot because I can’t get the ingredients here in Ottawa.

Here in the city, Steve and I are basically family-less. His mother is no longer with us and he’s an only child. All my family is back in Labrador so we’ll be having another holiday feast for three. (Except Miss M. only eats chicken fingers)! We did regular Canadian/American style Thanksgiving this year so I’ve convinced him to have a Labrador style Christmas, which is a huge lunch instead of dinner. Out of the things I would normally have back home, the turkey and Jigg’s Dinner with Pease Pudding are possible to make here, along with most of the desserts that don’t include local berries. So we’ve been gearing up! Steve bought a 4 kg (8.8 lb) bucket of salt beef last night! lol I’m making Mars Bar Squares and Miss M. and I are going to make sugar cookies for Santa. For newer recipes I think I’m finally going to try making a breakfast casserole in the morning, knowing full well it won’t all get eaten, and perhaps some Angel Biscuits. Another one I’m definitely going to try is a low and slow technique for roasting the turkey, that I found in Cooking Light magazine. We’re having prime rib for New Years so I’m going to try the same technique on the cut off beef as well. Stay tuned! I may have to take a pic of Steve taking his first bite of salt beef! lol

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