Love-ly Potluck

My office decided to have a Valentine’s Day potluck with the theme: food we love. I made sis guess our theme for Valentine’s Day and she guessed: food that bad for your heart. Also, a fun theme…for another time.

I love breakfast so I made Ebelskiver. These stuffed pancakes are fantastic and highly portable. Potlucks are so much pressure because reheating with only a microwave and toaster oven doesn’t do everything justice. Also, since I travel to work on public transit my choices can also be limited.

These stuffed pancakes became fast favorites of ours after I gave the pan to Mr. J for his birthday. I did 2 fillings: raspberries and chocolate chips. Some other favorite fillings are: jelly, sausage, brown sugar, coconut, and peanut butter.

Generously spray pan with non-stick spray. Pour pancake batter half way, add filling ingredient and add more batter on top.
ebilskiv_choc_290_200Williams Sonoma sells fancy turners but after a $40 pan I decided we would get creative. I can whole heartedly recommend cheap bamboo skewers.
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Some other loved items at our potlucks include:

Somebody loves: Thai Noodles in Peanut Sauce with Asparagus and Cucumbers
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Somebody loves: Matzo Ball Soup
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Somebody loves: Kale Salad with Mango & Sunflower Seeds
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Somebody loves: Queso Dip
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Somebody loves: Care Packages (you can’t see the neutella brownie inside and I ate it before taking a photo)
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Some others love salad and pasta salad.

It was such a fun theme. Some of our past themes have been: picnic food; dip day; and back to school lunch food. I can’t wait for our next potluck!

Spinach & Cheese Muffin Bites

Spinach-Cheese Bake

I really love quiche but when I pack it for lunch it seems soggy and the crust flakes. I tried this crustless spinach and Monterey jack cheese version and made it in a muffin tin.
crustless_quiche_done_290_200There isn’t anything super special in this but I was glad I went with a lighter protein & veggie option for a few days worth of lunch. It would be good for a bunch item but this didn’t rock my socks.

Ingredients

4 cups fresh baby spinach
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 1/3  cups  all-purpose flour
1 1/2  cups milk
4 eggs
1  teaspoon  salt
2  teaspoons  Dijon mustard
1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
1/8  teaspoon  ground red pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°.
Spray 13 x 9-inch baking dish or muffin tins with cooking spray. Place chopped spinach evenly in bottom of dish; sprinkle evenly with cheese.
crustless_quiche_spin_290_200Combine flour and remaining ingredients in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk until blended.
crustless_quiche_liq_290_200Pour milk mixture over cheese. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until lightly browned.
crustless_quiche_assemb_290_200I omitted 1 teaspoon of baking powder, by accident. These turned out a bit more spongy than I expected, probably because I forgot the baking powder.

‘Morning Sunshine

Stranded on an island with one meal, hands down a breakfast sandwich is my choice. Everytime. I’m specifically interested in one varity: sausage, egg, cheese on a croissant. I mean I wouldn’t pass up one with bacon, or on a bagel, but for breakfast or brunch, this is a pretty regular choice for me. It is also a great way to compare restaurants!

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the egg:

over-easy or scrambled

the cheese:

preferably cheddar, but American will do just fine

the sausage:

maple is great but links or patties, I don’t discriminate

the bread:

croissants are my favorite, but again, bagels make a great choice…the caveat? The bagel must, must, must be toasted or grilled. This seems obvious but it has been a reoccurring faux pas.

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My local favorites include Kelly’s Diner, Ball Square Cafe, Bakers’ Best, and yes, Dunkin’ Donuts.

Unacceptable breakfast sandwiches are found at The Broken Yolk (untoasted bagel and a single link sausage cut in half) and Moogy’s (stringy cheese and rubbery bacon).

Normally my restaurant choices lean towards something I cannot make at home, but the fact that I don’t make them regularly adds validity to my choice. It needs to be served HOT HOT HOT. Also, the egg must be cooked through while the cheese needs to be melted. I swoon over a sharpness of the cheddar, the toasty-ness of the croissant, and the sweetness of the sausage gets me every time.

How to Cheat on Flour’s Sticky Sticky Buns

Flour’s Sticky Sticky Buns by Joanne Chang

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Sis doesn’t cook a ton, BUT she makes amazing sticky buns. She made them for Christmas breakfast and we loved them.  I learned that they are based on Joanne Chang’s recipe. Chef Chang was on Bobby Flay’s Throwdown, where she won. Check out the video.

You could make the whole thing yourself, BUT using pre-made puff pastry makes it a bit more do-able.

Ingredients Goo:

 

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup  water
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Basic Brioche Dough (or cheat with frozen puff pastry)
1/4 cup  light brown sugar1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup pecan halves, toasted and chopped

Directions

First, make the goo. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar and cook, stirring, to combine (it may look separated, that’s ok). Remove from the heat and whisk in the honey, cream, water, and salt. Strain to remove any undissolved lumps of brown sugar. Let cool for about 30 minutes, or until cooled to room temperature. You should have about 3 cups. (The mixture can be made up to 2 weeks in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

On a floured work surface, roll out the puff pastry into rectangle about 12 by 16 inches and 1/4-inch thick. It will have the consistency of cold, damp Play-Doh and should be fairly easy to roll. Position the rectangle so a short side is facing you.

In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and half of the pecans. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the entire surface of the dough. Starting from the short side farthest from you and working your way down, roll up the rectangle like a jellyroll. Try to roll tightly, so you have a nice round spiral. Trim off about 1/4- inch from each end of the roll to make them even.

Use a bench scraper or a chef’s knife to cut the roll into 8 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2-inches wide. (At this point, the unbaked buns can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 week. When ready to bake, thaw them, still wrapped, in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, then proceed as directed.)

Pour the goo into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, covering the bottom evenly. Sprinkle the remaining pecans evenly over the surface. Arrange the buns, evenly spaced, in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm spot to proof until the dough is puffy, pillowy, and soft and the buns are touching-almost tripled in size, about 2 hours.

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat to 350 degrees F.

Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool in the dish on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes. One at a time, invert the buns onto a serving platter, and spoon any extra goo and pecans from the bottom of the dish over the top.

The buns are best served warm or within 4 hours of baking. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day, and then warmed in a 325 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes before serving.

See? You have plenty to do without making the brioche dough yourself.

Adorable Betsy’s Diner

Betsy’s Diner – Falmouth, MAOn a family girls trip to Falmouth, MA we went to the legendary Betsy’s Diner. Sis, Mum and I had some great meals you’ll hear about later. We rounded out the weekend with a traditional diner breakfast.

I love diner food, especially breakfast. Betsy’s Diner was great. The inside was so adorable with  great vintage tables and accessories. There was a very cool, partly 3D mural that had some seasonal inserts. Santa was there now!

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Our server was prompt and kept the coffee coming. There were a few specials featured that day: some sort of chocolate chip pancake, eggs benedict, and a Portuguese eggs Benedict with linguica.

I chose my standard: sausage, egg, and cheese on a bagel. The bagel was grilled crispy and buttery. I love love love when I get to choose the cheese. My choice? Cheddar, obviously.

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Stuck on an island with only one meal I’d have sausage, egg, and cheese on a bagel or croissant. This one was delectable.

The hash browns weren’t the best. At such a charming spot I expected them to actually make their own hash browns…what a bummer. Ohh well, can’t win ‘em all.

Likes: endless supply of coffee, cheddar
Dislikes: hash browns could be better.