Bacon, Kale and Mushroom Frittata

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A healthy, Paleo friendly frittata that makes a perfect make-ahead breakfast for busy mornings. 

The most challenging part of my 30 day Paleo adventure (you can read more about it here) is that most convenience/take-out foods are no longer options. This means I’m cooking, or planning what to cook, all.the.time. Breakfast bars, yogurt, sandwiches, pasta and pizza are out (sigh), so that means lots of chopping, peeling, slicing and dicing. Which I generally enjoy, but can require time I just don’t have. Especially in the morning. Tired of my little portion of nuts and a piece of fruit, I decided to make a healthy and hearty frittata this weekend to have for quick breakfasts during the week. A warm breakfast on a hurried weekday morning just makes me feel…better. And serves as a nice reminder that slow mornings over extra coffee are around the corner.

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Of course, frittatas can be made with whatever vegetables and meat  you have sitting in the fridge. This time around, I took advantage of the fact that bacon is a Paleo approved food and paired it with meaty sautéed mushrooms, earthy kale and sweet caramelized shallots. I prefer the veggies in my frittata to have a little color on them, so there is some time spent here stirring the shallots and mushrooms as they brown. However, this is pretty mindless work that can be done while  you tidy up the kitchen, prep other meals or simply read a magazine at the counter. The method for a frittata is simple- cook your meat and veggies as desired, scramble some eggs and pour them into the hot skillet. As soon as the eggs on the bottom start to set, transfer the frittata to a pre-heated oven to cook through. Once the frittata is cooked through, run a spatula around the skillet and under the bottom of the frittata to release it from the pan, then transfer to a cutting board and slice into wedges.

While I prepared this frittata as a make ahead weekday breakfast, it would also be a wonderful addition to a weekend brunch. Cheese is not on the list of Paleo approved foods, so I left it out this time. In the future, and definitely for a brunch, I think some goat cheese, gruyere or even parmesan would be totally delicious here. And don’t limit yourself to breakfast- served alongside a salad, this frittata would make a light and delicious lunch or dinner!

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Bacon, Kale and Mushroom Frittata

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced cremini (or white) mushrooms
  • 2 medium shallots, sliced thin
  • 2 cups lacinato kale, chopped
  • 10 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk eggs with water, salt and pepper until well blended and set aside.

Spray large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over medium high heat. Add bacon to skillet and cook until crisp, 10-12 minutes. Remove bacon from skillet with slotted spoon and pour off all but 1 Tbsp of bacon fat. Return skillet with reserved fat to heat and add mushrooms and shallots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms and shallots have browned, about 1o minutes, adding a small amount of reserved bacon fat if the skillet seems especially dry. Add kale to skillet and cook 3-4 minutes, until softened and slightly wilted. Add bacon back to skillet and pour eggs over all ingredients. When the bottom of the eggs starts to set, about a minute, transfer skillet to preheated oven and cook for 10-12 minutes until eggs are cooked through and frittata is slightly puffy.

When skillet is removed from oven, place an oven mitt or piece of foil on the handle as a visual reminder that it is hot (you only make that mistake once…) Run a silicone spatula around the sides of the skillet and under the frittata, to loosen it from the pan. Carefully slide frittata from skillet onto cutting board and cut into 8 pieces.

Serves 8.

Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Maple Glaze

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Hey there! How was your weekend? Mine was perfectly autumn-y. It was a wonderful combination of blustery, rainy weather and radiant, colorful sunshine. Plus, hubby and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary on Saturday, which was fun. Hard to believe it’s been 5 years already! I’m sure we’ll say the same thing at 50, God willing. In honor of our anniversary, I let Justin pick which recipe I would post first this week. He totally surprised me by choosing this pumpkin coffee cake with maple glaze. Justin proclaims himself to be pumpkin-ambivalent. He reckons that he is above the pumpkin-spice-everything craze that runs rampant this time of year. But. One bite of this pumpkin coffee cake…. Actually, one taste of the spiced maple glaze that I offered while finishing the cake, and all that went out the window. I offered to send the leftovers with him to work, because this recipe makes a very generous 9×13 pan of decadent coffee cake, and he declined. Which means he plans to eat the entire 9×13 pan of pumpkin coffee cake over the upcoming week. Don’t worry, he’s training for the Philly marathon in November, he’ll burn it off. #wifebrag.

This pumpkin coffee cake fits perfectly into the autumn of my dreams. The one where I host a lovely outdoor brunch for friends and family on picnic tables under vibrantly colored trees with an expertly selected menu of cozy, seasonal fare. The centerpiece, of course, would be this coffee cake. Surprisingly light and incredibly tasty, this cake is decadent and wholesome. Sweet enough for dessert but totally acceptable for a weekend breakfast. Hey, pumpkin is a vegetable, right? While I may fall short of my fall brunch goals this season (the days are flying by! we just finally bought our mums this weekend!), this coffee cake will not disappoint. Don’t hate me for suggesting that this would be a fantastic breakfast while the whole gang is in the house come Thanksgiving.

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I hope it goes without saying that this pumpkin coffee cake with maple glaze is delicious. But in addition to being delicious, it’s also fairly simple to make. There are a few steps, between making the cake batter, mixing the streusel and preparing the glaze, but nothing is very complicated and it all comes together pretty quickly. The result is so worth it. The cake itself is warmly spiced and tender. Not at all heavy or dense, as pumpkin confections can sometimes be. The classic streusel topping is what makes it coffee cake, which means you’re well within your rights to pick sweet, buttery pieces from the top of the cake as it cools. And the maple glaze… Well, that’s what makes this recipe truly worthy of a special occasion. Powdered sugar, pure maple syrup and heavy cream combine to make a divine topping for an already heavenly cake. The glaze recipe makes a generous amount, so drizzle about half over the cake once cooled and reserve the rest to drizzle (or,  um, douse) individual servings. I might give Justin a run for his money this week. I’m already planning to have a piece of this coffee cake with a cappuccino after work tomorrow.

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Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Maple Glaze

Ingredients:

For Cake:

  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp salt

For Streusel:

  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter,cut into small cubes, at room temperature

For Maple Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp heavy cream, plus more as necessary
  • 3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

In bowl of stand mixer, add eggs, oil, sugars, pumpkin and vanilla. Mix on medium speed until combined, about 3 minutes. In medium bow, whisk together dry ingredients. With mixer on low, add dry ingredients to wet in 3 batches, allowing each to incorporate into wet ingredients before proceeding. Pour batter into prepared pan.

In medium bowl whisk together the following streusel ingredients: flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Add butter to bowl and incorporate into dry ingredients, using either pastry blender or fingertips. Mix until mixture resembles coarse sand and holds together when pressed but will still easily crumble. Sprinkle streusel over top of cake batter. Bake cake for 30-35 minutes, or until skewer inserted into center comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely before adding glaze.

To prepare maple glaze, add all ingredients to medium bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined and glaze drizzles easily from whisk. Add additional cream if necessary to achieve desired consistency. Drizzle about half of the glaze over the coffee cake and reserve the rest to drizzle over individual servings. Or just go for it and put entire glaze recipe over cake.

Serves 12-16, depending on size of pieces.

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Pumpkin Bread with Sweet Cream Cheese Butter

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Between us, I was all about pumpkin way before the current pumpkin-spice craze. An early adopter, if  you will. For starters, I was obsessed with those little mellowcreme pumpkins as a little girl (not really pumpkin, but still.) I’ve always been a pumpkin pie enthusiast and would beg my grandma to let me help her bake Thanksgiving pies…or at least lick the bowl. I live for pumpkin pie for breakfast. Pumpkin pancakes, too. “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” is my second favorite Peanuts special (A Charlie Brown Christmas is number one, obvs.) I put Pumpkin Pie Spice in my coffee all year round. If pumpkin ravioli are on the menu, that’s what I’ll order. When the horrific pumpkin shortage threatened fall baking, I hoarded as much as my pantry could hold. My point is, I really, really love pumpkin and have for a long time. Also, for the record, Hocus Pocus was my favorite fall movie WAY before it was cool.

Pumpkin bread can be overshadowed by its’ more glamorous and fancy compadres, like cupcakes and pies. But when done well, it’s a real treat. There’s nothing like a warm slice of pumpkin bread and hot cup of coffee on a quiet autumn morning before the rest of the house is awake. A few moments of delicious solace before the craziness begins. Of course, those moments are ruined by dense, bland, overly sweet pumpkin bread. My beloved pumpkin deserves better. Unfortunately, since pumpkin is by nature so moist and thick, many recipes result in a heavy pumpkin brick, rather than a little slice of heaven.

Luckily, I happened upon this recipe and now rest assured that wet, heavy and bland pumpkin bricks are a thing of the past. This bread is substantial but not dense. The earthy, sweet flavor of pumpkin shines through, complemented by the traditional spices. I’ve used pumpkin pie spice to simplify things, but of course you can create your own mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. The pumpkin and spices are cooked on the stovetop to evaporate moisture and concentrate pumpkin flavor. Cream cheese is added to the batter to add richness and a little edge to cut through the sweetness. The topping is cinnamony, brown sugary goodness. And, while completely optional, I added a cream cheese butter that flirts dangerously with the idea of being frosting. But if we call it butter, then it’s appropriate to put it on bread which means it is a perfectly acceptable breakfast. Right? Right. You can always count on me for a good rationale 😉

This recipe makes two loaves, which means there’s plenty to share. Keep one for yourself and give another to a neighbor or co-worker. Or eat one now and keep one in the freezer, in case of a pumpkin emergency. Happy fall baking!

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Pumpkin Bread with Sweet Cream Cheese Butter

Ingredients:

Topping

  • 5 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 Tbsp softened butter
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Bread

  • 2 c all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk, mixed with 1 tsp vinegar or lemon juice and allowed to sit 5 min (or buttermilk)

Sweet Cream Cheese Butter

  • 4 Tbsp softened butter
  • 8 oz softened cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

Combine ingredients for topping in a small bowl with either fingers or a spoon until the butter is incorporated into dry ingredients. Set aside.

Prepare loaf pans. Spray two 9 by 5 (or 8 1/2 by 4 1/2) inch loaf pans with baking spray. Place loaf pans on a rimmed cookie sheet and set aside. Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In a medium saucepan, cook pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice over medium heat about 6-8 minutes, until thickened and slightly dark. Turn off the heat and add both sugars and vegetable oil. Using your fingers, break cream cheese into small pieces over pumpkin mixture until all cream cheese has been added. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes to warm the cream cheese, then whisk until no lumps of cream cheese remain.

Whisk eggs and milk/acid mixture (or buttermilk) together, then whisk into pumpkin. Add flour to pan and gently fold into pumpkin mixture until combined. Divide batter evenly between pans and sprinkle topping over the pans.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Remove from oven and allow to sit in loaf pans for 15-20 minutes. Then carefully remove loaves from pans and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

To make sweet cream cheese butter: whisk all ingredients together until smooth. You can also mix ingredients with hand or stand mixer.

Makes 2 loaves and enough sweet cream cheese butter for each loaf.

Bread recipe slightly adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Mango Coconut Oatmeal

IMG_6357 (1)I had planned on preparing this post on Sunday evening to go live on Monday morning. However, life had different plans and I’m just now feeling like I can, or at least should, get around to doing it. If you know me personally, you know that while I don’t have kids, I have cats and I that love them as my family. Our Tres was diagnosed with a terminal illness this past March and passed away peacefully yesterday while I held him on my lap. It became clear this weekend that his health was failing and I couldn’t bear to write something false and peppy. I truthfully couldn’t bear to do anything at all. Instead I focused on what was important.We just spent long hours together with Tres and PB, relishing each others’ company. I would’t change anything, aside from asking for more time.

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My Tres♥

We cook for our families because we love them. We want to nourish them, give them enjoyment and show them that we care. On special occasions that may mean an impressive layered cake or a roast turkey with all the fixings. But on a daily basis, it’s the heart we draw in peanut butter on a PB&J sandwich. It’s the cup of coffee we set next to our spouse’s keys before they head out the door. It’s even the chicken nuggets at the drive-thru that, while maybe not ideal, are always well received. This oatmeal is an every day recipe with a special touch. Old fashioned rolled oats are cooked in spiced, sweetened coconut milk and mixed with juicy mango and nutty coconut. It comes together in 10 minutes, which means that it’s a do-able weekday breakfast as school resumes and mornings become more hectic. So you can focus on the things that really matter, like a little more time with your family, whether they stand on four legs or two.

 

 

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Mango Coconut Oatmeal 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 2 cups coconut milk beverage (I used unsweetened SO Delicious Coconut Milk)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup mango
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp honey, plus more to serve
  • 1/3 cup coconut shreds (I used unsweetened, but you can also use sweetened coconut)

Instructions: 

In medium saucepan, add oats, coconut milk, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Bring ingredients to a boil. Once boiling, add about ¾ of the mango and coconut. Reduce heat to a simmer and add egg white, vanilla, salt and honey. Simmer 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and divide into bowls. Top each serving with remaining coconut and mango. Add additional honey to each serving if desired.

Serves 2 generously or 3-4 smaller appetites.

 

If anyone is ever in the same situation with a pet, I highly recommend Lap of Love. A veterinarian came to our house and allowed Tres to pass in the peace and comfort in his own home as I held him. While I’d rather not need their services at all, I’m grateful that they helped our family handle this time with grace and dignity. 

Veggie Breakfast Hash

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Confession time. For all the fancy recipes I like to make and heavy-duty cooking I like to do, breakfast-for-dinner is my favorite dinner. And lunch. And breakfast. Basically I could eat all breakfast all the time. What’s not to love? The staples are delicious and uncomplicated. Cleanup is usually pretty easy. And eggs are so yummy and versatile. On a busy weeknight, I’m perfectly happy to have an avocado toast with egg and call it a night. The only problem with breakfast food for dinner is the lack of vegetables. The usual suspects are all pretty light on the veg, unless you count potatoes. I like for my dinner to have something green. This veggie breakfast hash is a perfect solution. On the table within 20 minutes, veggies a-plenty and only 1 pan to clean. Oh, and it’s really, really good, too.

There are a couple of easy techniques that help ensure this hash is brown and crispy, like a traditional potato based hash, instead of a soggy mess. First, zucchini is tossed with salt and allowed to sit for 5-10 minutes. This enables the salt to draw moisture from the zucchini, which in turn helps the zucchini  brown and stay intact. Second, the veggies are cooked on high heat, which sears the edges and encourages browning. The mushrooms, especially, get brown, meaty and slightly crisp, which means you really don’t miss the potatoes. Red bell pepper adds a mellow sweetness and beautiful color, and diced shallot adds a slight oniony bite. I like to serve this with sunny side up eggs and hearty whole grain toast. If you’re trying to cut back on carbs, leave out the toast. If you’re feeling indulgent, add a side of bacon. Whatever you decide, and whenever you decide to serve this, you’ll walk away feeling healthy and satisfied. And you’ll have plenty of time to move on with the rest of your day.

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Veggie Breakfast Hash 

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 7 large mushrooms (baby bellas or white button), cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 2 eggs, cooked as desired
  • 2 slices hearty whole grain bread, toasted

Instructions: 

Start by drawing moisture from zucchini. Toss zucchini with some salt (about ¼ to ½ tsp). Allow zucchini to sit for 5-10 minutes, then pat dry with paper towels.

In large, heavy bottomed skillet, such as cast iron, heat butter and olive oil over high heat. Add vegetables and cook about 2 minutes undisturbed to allow browning. Toss vegetables and continue to cook, stirring periodically, until browned- about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and sprinkle basil over vegetables. Serve with eggs and toast.

Serves 2

Zucchini Cream Cheese Muffins

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This is the time of year when people have more zucchini than they know what to do with. Most people are in that situation because their gardens produce zucchini faster than they can cook it. I wind up in that situation because I know it’s zucchini season and buy way too much at the grocery store. We end up in the same place, just have different ways of getting there.

However you wind up with an abundance of zucchini, these muffins are a prime way to use it. These are inspired by my favorite pumpkin muffins (recipe here.) Warmly spiced, tender muffins are filled with a sweetened cream cheese and topped with a toasty, buttery streusel. Even if you don’t have any zucchini, these are a good reason to go out and buy some.

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Zucchini Cream Cheese Muffins

Ingredients: 

Muffins:

  • 1 pound zucchini, ends and stems removed, cut into 1 inch pieces (about 2 medium zucchini) if you are shredding by hand, do not cut zucchini into pieces
  • ¾ cup sugar, divided
  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled

Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp heavy cream, half and half or milk

Streusel Topping:

  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 Tbsp unbleached all purpose flour
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 6 Tbsp cold butter, cut into pieces

Instructions: 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tin with 12 liners.

Batter: 

Place zucchini and 2 Tbsp sugar in food processor. Pulse 12-15 times until finely shredded. Alternatively, shred zucchini by hand on large holes of box grater, then mix with 2 Tbsp sugar. Place zucchini and sugar mixture into fine mesh strainer placed over bowl. Allow to sit for 30 minutes, so that liquid drains from zucchini into bowl. After 30 minutes, place zucchini in paper towels or clean dish towel and wring excess liquid from mixture.

In large bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg until well combined. Set aside.

In medium bowl, whisk eggs, greek yogurt, vanilla, remaining sugar and butter. Mix in zucchini. Add egg/zucchini mixture to flour. Stir until just combined.

Cream Cheese Filling: 

Whisk all ingredients in bowl until smooth.

Streusel Topping:

Place all ingredients in bowl. Using pastry cutters, two knives or your fingers, until mixture holds together loosely.

Assembly:

Put enough batter on the bottom of each muffin liner to cover bottom, 1-2 Tbsp. Evenly distribute cream cheese filling over each muffin. Top with remaining batter. Evenly divide streusel topping over each muffin, pressing into batter to adhere.

Bake for 22-24 minutes. Cool in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then remove muffins and place on cooling rack until cooled completely. Allow muffins to cool completely before eating- the cream cheese filling is very hot right out of the oven.

Makes 12 muffins.

Muffin base adapted from Baking Illustrated