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Tag Archive for brunch

::summer love:: Happy Anniversary

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I am taking the day off today.  I’m hoping I won’t be cooking.  Today I celebrate 5 years of being married to PTB.  That means five years of cooking more than just spaghetti with sauce from a jar.  Five years of owning more than 2 pans.  Five years of wanting to cook.  Five years of being mrs ptb.

Thank you for encouraging me to do anything I want!  It has been so much fun and I can’t wait for more 🙂

::eating out:: Radio Maria, Champaign, Ill

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If I ever have to go to Champaign, Illinois again, I know where I will have Sunday brunch.  I won’t deny, we didn’t have the best service when we visited Radio Maria.  In fact, some might say it was downright bad.  But it was Easter Sunday (overdue post?), and maybe the staff was slim pickings.  It was really only our waiter that was bad.  Anyone who walked by that was asked for something (utensils, creamer, etc), was more than happy to oblige.

Wouldn’t you forgive a forgetful waiter when a meal like this sits in front of you?

I ordered the Smoked Pork Torta.  Let me just tell you…if the waiter has agreed to my non-corn wanting, it would have been perfect.  But I still ate it all.  The orange chipotle bbq sauce was INCREDIBLE.

PTB’s meal wasn’t so pretty, but the Masa Boat Surprise did not disappoint.  It was also delicious.  And the potatoes were yummy too!

This restaurant had an odd mix of Tex-Mex and Cajun style.  I will happily admit, they seem to get the Tex-Mex a little better than the Cajun.  We ordered Beignets for the four of us.  The girls both wanting to try both the cinnamon-sugar and the powdered, so we decided on an order of each and to share.  The powdered were perfect.  The cinnamon-sugar… Let’s just say they forgot the sugar.  Have you ever had a spoonful of cinnamon?  Well, don’t go try it just because I said so.  You’ll never come back.

One of our friends ordered a cajun dish.  I want to say maybe the shrimp and grits?  Maybe not.  It was all a blur.  We received three of the dishes, and then the waiter soon asked the meal-less one if he wanted anything…  “Yeah, the meal I ordered…”  We all assumed for a few minutes that his was still coming, until that moment.  That was fun? But I promise, this just seemed like that particular waiter was the problem.  Remember, I had to ask someone for cream for my coffee?  Everyone else was SUPER NICE.  Oh…and the creole dish, I believe it got a disappointing review.  But it was rushed. Maybe if it had been prepared with our meals it would have turned out better?

Radio Maria on Urbanspoon Ok, so the moral of the story is, if you ever end up in this strange little college town, there are so many places you should go.  If you are there on a brunch day, you could give this place a go.  I have a few other things about our trip to Champaign that I will be posting eventually.  I just couldn’t resist sharing these gorgeous meals  🙂  And if you ever have friends in the Champaign area, visit them!  The town is incredible and perfect for a weekend visit.

Champaign isn’t big enough to have any Open Table or Urban Spoon listings. My defaults as a city-liver.  But I did find them on Yelp.  Let me know if you ever end up in this tiny town.  And if you area already there and find this tiny blog… What is your favorite place?

::brunch for a bunch:: Giant Roasted Veggie Frittata

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Roasted vegetables are my favorite kind of vegetable.  Ok. Well, now that I type that out maybe not.  Green beans are still my FAVORITE type of vegetable.  But of cooked vegetables, roasted ones probably take a very close second.  When their done right, it might even be a photo finish.  Who knew after all those years of picky eating that I would say that about a zucchini?

Beyond eating, or even liking, vegetables, my mom’s favorite thing to talk about when I cook lately has been that my sisters all thought it was so silly that I was registered for, and receiving, cookware as wedding gifts.  She likes to brag that they all thought I would never cook, and now I am a “great cook”.  Well…

#1. I had no need to cook when I was growing up.  I am the youngest of eight children.  Clearly, there was no need for me to take care of myself.

#2.  They are all great cooks.  I have people to follow.  Of the eight kids, I know at least 6 of them can find their way around a kitchen quite nicely.  I still stumble around a bit, and one of them, well I have no idea.  He is the oldest, so he was out of the house before I can really remember him cooking, and I have never stayed with him to see if he can feed me like I have with my sisters.

#3.  I would still not consider myself a “great cook”.  I am a great recipe-follower.  This blog was a project to keep track of my recipe tweaks.  To give me something to follow.  I am learning my way around the kitchen still and what I can make up is limited.  I don’t feel like a genius in the kitchen.  I cannot go from nothing.  I almost always need something to follow or at least a little inspiration.  Baked meals are the one exception to that (I think).  I am comfortable not following recipes with things that turn into a casserole form of some sort.  You can’t really mess those up, can you?  Baked Ziti and Frittatas.  Two things I KNOW I can make, and make differently each time and still get rave reviews.

So, the moral of the story is, I make a frittata every year for Mother’s Day brunch.  I tweak it ever so slightly every year to try and make up for the one thing that one person wasn’t crazy about the previous year.  This year there weren’t many complaints.  This year was also the experiment of making almost everything ahead of time.  This year my mom still told the story of my sisters thinking I didn’t need anything for a kitchen.  What can I say, I am the baby.  I am the favorite 😉

Everything with this recipe can be done the day before and assembled right before going in the oven.  The only thing I did not do ahead of time is the eggs.  I thought it was kind of icky to beat eggs and have them sit in the fridge for a day.  Icky and unnecessary.  I also want to note that I had too much to fit in the pan veggie-wise.  This was fine since the leftovers are great.  So I am sticking with the same amount and having leftovers.  Or, just fill a bigger pan  🙂

What I Used
Step One
(day one)
3 medium zucchini
3 medium summer squash
2 red bell peppers
1 large red onion
2 large bowls
~1/4 cup olive oil X2 (1 for each bowl)
~ 2 Tbsp Herb de Provence X2 (2 for each bowl)
Step Two (day one)
1 lb chicken or turkey sausage
4 slices bacon, cut into 1″ pieces
2 large potatoes, sliced
Step Three (day two)
5 large eggs
4 large egg whites
1/2 cup ricotta
1/2 lb shredded gruyere
1/4 cup grated Parmesan + some for topping
salt & pepper

Slice all your vegetables in step on into evenly thick pieces (about 1/4-1/2″).  Since I had way too many veggies for 1 bowl, or since I had no bowl big enough for my veggies, I divided all of them between two large pyrex mixing bowls.  Toss each bowl with about 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 Tbsp Herb de Provence.

Spread in a single layer onto foil coated rimmed baking dishes.  Don’t use cookie sheets or you will have a huge mess if oil runs off.  Roast at 450F for about 15 minutes or until tender.  If you aren’t baking the frittata same day, cover and put in the refrigerator until ready to assemble.

Next, in a large skillet, brown the sausage.  I took it out of the casing and used the ground meat.  Since I used chicken sausage (with roasted red peppers, it was divine), I used a bit of oil when browning it.  Drain and set aside.  Add a bit of the bacon to the pan and then a layer of potatoes.  In batches until finished, fry the bacon and potatoes.  All can sit in the fridge until the next day as well.  Last thing I did for prep was grate my cheese.

Next day!  Morning of the brunch!  Whisk together all your step three ingredients.  Heat your oven to 425F.  Coat a large pan with butter or cooking spray (butter is better!).  Layer the potato + bacon mixture, then a layer of vegetables, then 1/2 the sausage, then another layer of vegetables, and lastly half the sausage.  To make it pretty, I added a slice of squash/zucchini to the top of each “piece” and a few pieces of pepper in between.  Pour the egg mixture over everything.  Using a butter knife, poke in between the slices to help the egg run down through the entire frittata.  Sprinkle with extra Parmesan and dot with a little butter.

Bake for about an hour until golden brown.  You should be able to poke with a knife in the center and not have it ooze.

Serve it up!

Serves: 8-16 People (depending on any extras you want to serve along side, to keep the pieces smaller)  🙂

::sweet treat:: Flourless Choco Mint Cake

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I am having a hard time believing it is already the month of June.  May was a whirlwind for me.  It absolutely flew by.  Given some recent changes around here, I thought I would feel like I had all the time in the world. Instead, I feel like I spent most of the month catching up with my sanity.  I thought I had lost it before May, but I had just given it a head start.  With crazy activities throughout the month, yesterday was the first day I truly felt like I was caught up and ready to work on more new projects.

So June begins!  Yesterday I spent the day with a friend recovering from some oral surgery.  We tested a soon to come recipe for Mango Avocoado Margaritas, she got to try the “Not Just Take Out” from Saxbys in Manayunk, we visited a great little specialty food shop and picked up some new goodies, we ordered from one of my favorite Indian restaurants, and we watched a chick flick.  What more could you want from a day?  We almost did some baking….but next time.  It was a great way to start the month, and now, I can finally catch up with other projects.  And so, the first recipe from Mother’s Day brunch!  I know, I know….

This year, as you may have read, my Mother’s Day Brunch was all about making ahead of time.  I used the opportunity to test some new ideas.  Some turned out perfectly, some still need some testing.  Luckily, my audience wasn’t too hard to please and it all seemed to go smoothly.  Flourless chocolate cake thanks to Martha Stewart was a perfect make ahead treat.  I had never made a flourless cake before, and I was shocked by hour easy it was.  It was incredibly rich, so next time I may try it as tiny individual cakes.  If I make it mint again next time, the little individual cakes would look so perfect garnished with a sprig of fresh mint!  If you have never had flourless chocolate cake before, it is like mushy-cakey fudge with a papery crust.  It is kind of perfect.

What I Used
Step One
9″ Springform Pan
275F oven
1 stick of butter (divided)
1 1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup mint chips

Step Two
6 large eggs, separated
Step Three
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Step Four
powdered sugar

Start with two large mixing bowls, and a small bowl.  In one, chocolate chips and 6 Tbsp of butter.  In the other, 6 large egg white.  Set aside the 6 yolks in the small bowl for use later.  Microwave the chips and butter in 30 second increments on medium heat, stirring each time, until fully melted.  Or melt over a pot of water, but the microwave saved a TON of time…

One the buttery chocolate cools, whisk in the yolks.  Whisk the egg white to soft peaks and then gradually add the sugar.

Whisk the sugar and and egg whites until stiff and glossy.  Pretty, huh?

Whisk 1/4 of the whites into the chocolate and then gently fold that mixture into the remaining whites.

You still have those other 2 Tbsp of butter right?  Use some/most of that to butter your pan.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake until the cake begines to pull away from the sides of the pan and the center is JUST set.  This should be about 45 minutes.  Cool completely on a wire rack.  Dust with powder sugar before serving.

Serves: 8 generously

::sweet sunday:: Cinnamabun Pancakes

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I woke up with a fresh outlook on Sunday.  This was the first Sunday I had woken up with this particular attitude in a long time.  Usually Sundays make me a bit sad.  It is the end of my weekend.  The last moments to do anything I wanted to do before the hectocity of the week began.  This past Sunday was different.  We had the craziest day possible on Saturday and we both slept in Sunday.

Usually I am the late sleeper, but I managed to get up before PTB this time.  I had enough time to look though my hundreds of “recipes to try”, to find the perfect substitute for the Sunday brunch we clearly were not going out for.  When I saw the Cinnamon Bun Pancakes on Baked Bree, I was sold.  I found her food blog because she is a wedding photographer as well, so I think she is cool already since we share both interests.  Clearly if this is the case, the food must be good as well.

This was my first *from scratch* pancake experience, but none-the-less, I had to tweak it.  They turned out amazing.  And I just ate the last of them this morning.  *note to self: reheat in the toaster oven on 250F for like 5-10 minutes.  Perfection*

I used the Griddler for these, setting the griddle to just over 325F.  Since it is a perfectly non-stick surface, I didn’t have to use any added grease for cooking.

What You Need
Bowl One

1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
Bowl Two
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup 2% milk
1/2 stick melted butter
2 Tbsp REAL maple syrup
2 Tbsp vanilla extract

Whisk together each bowl of ingredients separately, then combine.  Using a 1/4 cup measure, scoop onto griddle, and cook on both sides.  To make these perfectly cinnamabunny, top with a butter glaze.

Buttah Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
3 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp melted butter

Whisk together, adjusting milk or sugar amounts to thicken or thin out.  Drizzle over pancakes.  Enjoy the greatest pancakes you have ever had. What mom wouldn’t want such decadent pancakes for Mother’s Day brunch?  

Yields: 16 – 4″ Pancakes