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Tag Archive for mother’s day

::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

::inspiration:: Mother’s Day Wrap Up

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Sunday is Mother’s Day.  No time for posting recipes now!  It is time to go into turbo cleaning mode and make this happy little home guest ready.  Bonus of the day!  While I don’t normally like to shop on Fridays, I forgot a couple items for the weekend.  Whole Foods offers buy one, get one on their spreads and dips on Friday!  While I wasn’t planning on having chips available Sunday, their guacamole and salsa fresca are AWESOME! Go get it now!

Other than that, if you are still looking for some ideas for Sunday, I suggest the following:

Gifts: Gourmet Chocolate, Keurig Coffee Maker

Drinks: Margaritas! (Derek’s is offering a Mother’s Day Brunch)

Meals: Cinnamabun Pancakes, Vegetable Stuffed Pancakes, Leek + Apple Frittata

Snacks: Ch-Ch-Chocolate Almonds, Chai Spiced Almonds, Avocado Salsa, Carrot Ginger Scones, Lemon Meltaways, Lemon Zucchini Cookies

My last suggestion for Mother’s Day is to make a donation to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.  And since no post is complete without a picture, I will take this opportunity to post a picture of the adorableness that I raised.  She just turned 12.

What are your plans to celebrate Mom?

::sweet treat:: Gourmet Chocolate

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Does your mom like chocolate?  I mean really, how could she not?  What woman doesn’t like chocolate?  No friend of mine 😉  Nothing says chocolate love like Haute Chocolat from Vosges.  Maybe a good gift to include for mom? Or just something to have as a special treat after brunch?

Our love of gourmet chocolate really started last summer on Long Island.  I could not tell you the name of the place, or the town it was in, but it was the Starbucks of chocolate.  The first night we visited I had a spicy hot chocolate of sorts with chiles.  Then on our way out of town, a chai hot chocolate over ice.  I can’t really tell you which I liked more.  They were both incredible.

We found some spicy hot chocolates we liked in time for winter.  But I have yet to perfect my chai hot chocolate.  I am working on it though.  Cayenne mixed in with chocolate is irresistible, so when purchasing some Vosges chocolate bars for testing, we had to include the Oaxaca Bar which is a bittersweet chocolate bar with chiles.

Of the Bacon Bar and the Oaxaca Bar, I have to vote for Mo’s Bacon Bar.  I am a fan of milk chocolate over dark to begin with, but I don’t think this is what it was.  Of the spicy chocolates we have had, the spice was there, but not overpowering.  It sort of creates the perfect after-burn, like the ch-ch-chocolate almonds did.  The Oaxaca Bar did not have that.  It was so mild compared to what I was expecting, and overall sort of disappointing.

Mo’s Bacon Bar did not disappoint.  I love bacon.  If asked to choose between chocolate and bacon, the decision would be really hard.  The chocolate was a deep milk chocolate, 45% cacao.  It was perfectly smooth.  The kind of chocolate where you can eat a 1″ square and be perfectly satisfied.  The bacon was actual bacon bits.  They added a saltiness to the chocolate that seemed perfectly balanced to me with just a hint of bacon flavor.  To me – it was perfect.

::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