Saturday, October 30, 2010

Eggs Havana

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, more so on the weekends because we have more time to make something delicious and filling to fuel us through the day. While I love the basics - pancakes, French toast, fried or scrambled eggs - I'm always looking for variations to shake things up.

Enter eggs Havana (via The Little Teochow). These delicious eggs are nestled atop a flavorful tomato sauce in a ramekin and baked to desired egg doneness (Gabe likes his eggs a little more runny than I do). I would have loved some nice wheat toast for dipping in the eggs, but had to settle for half a bagel since that was all we had.

It may be a little time-consuming for a breakfast meal, especially if you're starving in the morning like me. But well worth the wait, I assure you.

3 Tbs. olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small red or green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 c. canned tomatoes
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
dash of sugar (if needed)

6 large eggs
1 Tbs. butter, melted
salt and pepper to taste
parsley and red pepper flakes (optional, garnish)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly oil 3 ramekins with olive oil. Set aside momentarily.

Heat 3 Tbs. olive oil in a skillet over low heat. Add onions, bell pepper and garlic. Cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper (sugar, too, if needed). Cook until reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes.

Discard bay leaf, and divide tomato sauce equally among the 3 ramekins. Crack two eggs per ramekin, season lightly with salt and pepper. Drizzle with melted butter.

Place ramekins in a small casserole dish, and and add 1 c. boiling water to the dish to create a water bath. Bake until whites are set, and yolks are still soft (this took approximately 20-23 minutes for me). Check frequently towards end, and remove from oven when desired egg doneness is achieved. Top with parsley and red pepper flakes. Serve immediately in ramekins.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mediterranean Mushroom Casserole

For many people, one of the biggest challenges and obstacles to cooking is fear. Food is expensive, finding the right ingredients and cooking them takes time and there's a certain level of defeat associated with a dish that doesn't come out like you expected.

But, like anything, cooking takes practice. You don't get better unless you step outside your comfort zone and get down and dirty. I saw an insightful entry earlier this week on TheKitchn. "[It's] not about following a recipe perfectly or never making a mistake; [it's] about trying something out and occasionally discovering that it didn’t quite work the way we expected." It's about having fun! Trying new things! Experimenting! As one commenter to the post aptly noted, the worst case scenario is.... you order a pizza that night.

Conversely, there's a certain level of pride associated with tweaking a recipe to make it your own and loving the results. Which is what happened with me recently when I made this mediterranean mushroom casserole. I loved the idea of stuffed mushrooms via Aggie's Kitchen, but didn't quite have all the ingredients needed. So I adapted a little based on what I did have, and voila! We have a delicious, easy weeknight meal that we can enjoy again. One that we wouldn't have had if I hadn't experimented just a little bit.

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 (8 oz.) package whole mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 oz. Hot Italian sausage, casing removed and broken up
1 tsp. Greek seasoning*
1/4 c. panko bread crumbs
1/4 c. crumbled feta cheese
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parsley, chopped (garnish, optional)

1 c. chicken stock
1 tsp. olive oil
3/4 c. uncooked couscous
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a small casserole dish with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add 1 tsp. olive oil, salt and uncooked couscous and stir to incorporate. Remove from heat, cover and let sit 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbs. olive oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, red pepper, onion, sausage and garlic. Season with Greek seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook until softened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add cooked couscous and feta cheese; stir to combine.

Pour mixture into the greased casserole dish. Sprinkle with panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until Parmesan is melted and topping is browned. Spoon onto plates and garnish with fresh parsley.

*Greek seasoning recipe (adapted from AllRecipes)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. dried marjoram
1/4 tsp. onion salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. black pepper

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pumpkin Bread with Cranberries, Walnuts

Nothing like a thick slice of pumpkin bread and a fresh, crispy apple for an afternoon snack. Yum!

After using pumpkin puree for some deliciously fluffy pancakes and mouth-watering streusel muffins, I still had about a cup of the good stuff left. Luckily, I came across this recipe for pumpkin bread at just the right moment, via The Curvy Carrot.

Pumpkin, like zucchini, bakes into a fabulously moist load of sweet bread. It's great for breakfast with a steaming cup of coffee, or an afternoon snack like I had today. Just another testament to the awesomeness that is pumpkin. Who says it's only an autumn treat? Not me!

1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. Kosher salt
6 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. white sugar
2 large eggs
1 c. pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. coarsely chopped walnuts
2 Tbs. brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease one regular-sized loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, beat butter until softened. Gradually add white sugar until blended. Beat in eggs one at a time, then beat in pumpkin and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients alternatively with buttermilk, two additions each. Fold in cranberries and walnuts. Transfer batter into loaf pan and sprinkle with brown sugar.

Bake in preheated oven for approximately 70 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean. Cool bread for 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Baked Haddock

Red fish, blue fish. One fish, two fish. I heart eating fish (and shrimp, if you can't tell by my recipe index).

And, we've been tortured by said fish lately. Every which way I've turned (TV.... web... email...), there's awesome fish recipes waiting to be tasted and tested.

First, there was this fish kabob recipe on Giada at Home. Then, there was this tuna tetrazzini recipe on The Other Side of 50 blog. And finally, I started thinking about these dreamy fish tacos I made a few months back.

But making fish can be kinda scary. Fresh fish fillets can be rather expensive, and a lot of people can't handle the smell or texture of raw fish. But the end product, when properly prepared, is delicious and healthy (when you're not coating it in melted butter, that is, like I did. But that's a conversation for another day).

This is truly a great starter recipe for anyone wanting to get over their fear of fixing fish and finding out how fabulous it is to feast on fresh fish (Ha! Say that three times fast!). Start to finish: 20 minutes, 25 perhaps if you're easily distracted like me (via Dawn's Recipes)

1 lb. haddock fillets
3 Tbs. butter, melted
3 Tbs. white wine
1 Tbs. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
8 buttery crackers (like Ritz), crushed
parsley or chives (garnish, optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine melted butter, wine and lemon juice. Pour a small amount into the bottom of a glass baking dish and spread to evenly coat. Place haddock in dish and pour remaining butter mixture over fish fillets. Top with a sprinkle of salt, pepper and the crushed crackers.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until haddock flakes easily with a fork.

Remove from oven and garnish, if desired. Serve immediately.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Pumpkin Pancakes with Maple Pumpkin Sauce

My opinion of rainy Saturdays differs from season to season. In the spring and summer, it's such a travesty. The overcast skies and steady pitter-patter of raindrops on the roof seem to mock me, reminding me of all the fun activities I could be doing outside. Could, but can't. You know, like fun activities I could have done on Tuesday - when it was sunny and beautiful - but can't, since I was at work. That kind of could, but can't.

This fall morning, however, it didn't seem like such a travesty. In fact, it seemed to be more of a relief. As the rain fell steadily outside, I shuffled around in my hoodie and wooly slippers. I perused Facebook and read the news while sipping on a steaming mug of hazelnut coffee. I watched an episode of Man v. Food (How does Adam Richman manage to eat that incendiary Phaal?). My biggest concern of the morning: What should I make for breakfast?

Since my blog reader has been overrun by pumpkin recipes over the past few weeks, the choice was not difficult at all. The wonderful folks at Libby have provided a fabulously fluffy pumpkin pancake, complete with a warm maple pumpkin sauce (via One Ordinary Day). Word of the wise: Do not skip the sauce. It makes the whole dish; I could even eat it alone with only a spoon. My fingers even, if a spoon eluded me. With a sprinkling of chopped walnuts to top it off, we couldn't have asked for a more satisfying breakfast.

1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 Tbs. light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. salt
6 oz. evaporated milk
1/4 c. pumpkin puree
2 Tbs. water
1 large egg
1 Tbs. canola oil

1/2 c. maple syrup
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 c. chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, combine flours, brown sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Whisk to combine. In a separate bowl, combine evaporated milk, pumpkin puree, water, egg and oil. Mix well. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring until just moistened; batter may be lumpy.

Heat griddle over medium heat and brush lightly with butter. Spoon 1/4 c. amounts of batter onto hot griddle. Cook until batter starts to bubble lightly and cooked side is golden brown. Flip and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter.

To make the maple pumpkin sauce, heat maple syrup, pumpkin puree and ground cinnamon in a small saucepan over low heat until warmed.

Serve sauce over pancakes and garnish with chopped walnuts. Enjoy (we did).