Sunday Brunch Day

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” ~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Fall TableThere is just something about Fall.  The crisp air, the colorful leaves, and the cooler temperatures seem to beckon you to come gather at the table.  The Fall table does not require formalities, she simply asks you to come as you are, and to come hungry.

When I was in law school and the Husband, then boyfriend, moved up here to Cincinnati, we started family dinners on Sunday nights.  It was a time to come together with family amidst all the craziness of the past week, relax together, and to reconnect.

With the Husband’s work schedule or studying often pulling him away on Sunday, we have gotten out of our little routine.  And I miss it.  This past Sunday though, schedules aligned and we brunched.

Now, I’m a breakfast person.  There is no mistaking that.  So I couldn’t wait to welcome everyone with a warm cup of coffee on a cool Sunday morning.  And let’s be honest, there’s no better way to watch football than with a warm and happy stomach.  So before the Steelers play, or if you side with the Ohio contingency of my family, the Bengals or Browns, it was time to come to the table.

pumpkinEveryone has their go-to for brunch.  Whether it’s a soufflé, your grandmother’s cinnamon rolls, or strata, there’s that one dish you pull out of your back pocket to please the morning crowd.  For years mine was a Rachel Ray casserole.  We made it the morning of my law school graduation so it only seemed fitting to make this past weekend to celebrate passing the Ohio Bar.  However, I decided to break out of the mold and break into my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

On the menu this past Sunday morning was the Farmer’s Casserole and Pumpkin Bread.  It only seems fitting.  They were delicious! So next time your family gathers, break out these little numbers and they will be sure to please.  This Pumpkin Bread would also be great as gifts.

Pumpkin Bread
From Better Homes and Gardens

Makes 2 loaves.  This can be made ahead of time, which is always key for brunch.  If making the night before, after the loaves are completely cool, wrap and store overnight.

Ingredients
– 3 cups sugar
– 1 cup vegetable oil
– 4 eggs
– 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
– 2 tsp. baking soda
– 1 ½ tsp. salt
– 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
– 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
–  2/3 cup water
–  1 15oz. can pumpkin

Directions
– Grease the bottom and sides of two loaf pans; set aside.
– In a very large mixing bowl beat sugar and oil with an electric mixer on medium speed.  Add eggs and beat well; set aside.
– In a large bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
– Alternately add flour mixture and water to sugar mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined.
– Beat in pumpkin.
– Spoon batter into prepared pans.
– Bake at 350 for 55-65 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the centers come out clean.
– Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes.
– Remove from pans and then cool completely on the wire racks.

Farmer’s Casserole
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

This makes 6 big servings but I would suggest doubling the recipe because people will go back for seconds.  This can also be made ahead of time.  Cha-ching.  If making ahead, go through second step.  Cover, and chill up to 24 hours.  Then bake uncovered at 350 for 50-55 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Ingredients
– 3 cups frozen hash brown potatoes
– ¾ cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, cheddar cheese, or a mixture
– 1 cup cooked, crumbled, turkey sausage (the recipe calls for diced cooked ham or bacon, but the turkey was great in it and a bit healthier)
– ¼ cup sliced green onions
– ¼ cup diced red pepper
– 4 beaten eggs
– 1 ½ cups milk
– 1/8 tsp. salt
– 1/8 tsp. black pepper

Directions
– Coat 2-quart square baking dish with non-stick cooking spray
– Arrange potatoes evenly in the bottom of the dish.
– Sprinkle potatoes with cheese, turkey, green onions, and red peppers.
– In a bowl, combine eggs, milk, salt, and pepper.
– Pour egg mixture over potato mixture.
– Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
– Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

What is your brunch go-to?

Weekends are for (food)lovers- My Muse

Cooking is like love.  It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.  ~Harriet van Horne

Ree Drummond aka The Pioneer Woman aka My Muse

I have been noticing a couple of trends here in my cooking habits:

1. I have a cooking Muse– My Muse goes by the name of Ree Drummond, or as more people call her, The Pioneer Woman.  Until blogs, we had our grandma’s recipe books, the recipes we write down from our parents and compile to add to our own repertoire. Our recipe books are scraps of paper, notecards and photocopied magazine pages given to us by trusted family members and friends.  I now add to that list, Ree.  Her humor, stories and pictures, make me feel like I know her and as I star the recipes I want to try the following weekend my mouth waters.  I’m also glad I’m not the only one who has a four legged little rascal that seems so interested in the culinary arts 😉 More than just her recipes being utterly delicious, they are approachable, much like she is.  I feel like I am in her kitchen learning and making a mess right along side her.  She really is divine.

2. When I don’t run, I eat– Honestly, what else am I going to do with those 2-4 hours a day when I can’t run, it makes perfect sense to cook and eat.  Right?  Ok, so maybe there is flawed logic lurking somewhere in there but honestly, the last time I did a (food)lovers post was when I was sick with the flu and couldn’t run. Two weeks later, Piriformis syndrome and BAM. I’m in the kitchen cooking up a storm. And this weekend, I had a little extra inspiration to do so.

So without further ado, here is what my Muse inspired me to tackle this weekend.

Picture by Ree Drummond

Chicken with Tomatoes and Garlic
Originally from My Muse

Ingredients
-8 pieces chicken legs or thighs
-salt and peper to taste
-3 Tbs olive oil
-1 Tbs butter
-1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
-1 can (14 oz) whole tomatoes
-2 Tbs tomato paste
-Fresh herbs: basil, parsley, sage, rosemary
-8 cloves garlic
-16 oz of pasta
-grated parmesan cheese
-1/2 cup white or red wine

Directions
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
-Salt and pepper the chicken legs.
-Heat ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.
-Add olive oil and butter and when it’s hot, add chicken legs to the pan.
-Using tongs, brown the chicken on all sides (about 2 minutes) and then remove chicken from the pan and put on a clean plate.
-Pour wine in, scrapping the bottom to loosen any bits.  (I used white wine, a pinot grigio in mine, mmm)

Photo by Ree Drummond

-Cook for 1 minute
-Pour in tomatoes with their juice and add tomato paste.
-Bring sauce to a boil then turn off the heat.
-Add plenty of fresh herbs (at my grocery store they had a group of fresh herbs packaged together for poultry so I used that) garlic (come on, any recipe that requires 8 cloves of garlic…perfect) and chicken legs.
-Put lid on and cook in the oven for 1 hour then remove pot from oven and allow it to sit while you cook the pasta.
-Cook the pasta to al dente, drain and add to large serving bowl.
-Remove lid and check sauce, it  is overly thin, remove chicken and boil the sauce for 5-10 minutes (I should’ve done this. The sauce was delicious but a little too watery)
-To serve, pour sauce over cooked pasta, then arrange chicken pieces.
-Sprinkle generously with parmesan (now you see why I like this woman 😉

This recipe was so easy and incredibly cheap! It hardly took any prep or attention.  Now onto breakfast, my favorite food group!

Photo by Ree Drummond. Sorry kids- don't have a camera.

Petite Vanilla Bean Scones
Recipe originally from…you guessed it…My Muse.

Ingredients
Scones
-3 cups all-purpose flour
-2/3 cups sugar
-5 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled
-1 large egg
-3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
-2 whole vanilla beans

Glaze
-3 cups powdered sugar
-1/2 cups whole milk
-1 whole vanilla bean

Directions
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Split vanilla beans down the middle lengthwise and scrape out all the “caviar” inside.
-Stir caviar in cream and set aside for 15 minutes.
-Sift together flour, 2/3 cup sugar, baking powder and salt.
-Cut cold butter into pats, then use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the flour. Keep going till the mixture resembles crumbs.
-Mix vanilla cream with egg, then combine with flour mixture; stir gently with a fork just until it comes together.

Delicious photo by Ree Drummond

-Turn dough onto floured surface and lightly press together until it forms a rough rectangle.
-Use a rolling pin to roll into a rectangle about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick.
-Use knife to trim to a symmetrical rectangle, then cut into 12 squares.
-Next, cut each square/rectangle in half diagonally, to form two triangles
-Transfer to parchment lines cookie sheet and bake for 18 minutes or just before they start to turn golden.
-Allow to cool for 15 minutes on cookie sheet then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

Glaze
– Split one vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out all the caviar.
-Stir caviar into milk and allow to sit for awhile.
-Mix powdered sugar with the vanilla milk, adding more sugar is needed to get a smooth consistency.
-One at a time, carefully dunk each cooled scone in the glaze and transfer to the cooling rack to let the glaze set (about 1 hour)

I have never been a fan of scones but can you blame me for wanting to give them a second chance when they look so good? These aren’t the cheapest things in the world because of the vanilla bean but they are worth it. The recipe makes a lot too so you’ll have them for a couple mornings. I am enjoying one right now with my coffee, so take that Starbucks.

Tiger Balm

And for a quick running update:

Today is my first day of physical therapy.  This is going to hurt. I am getting a deep tissue massage as well, which is supposed to help.  I’m hoping they can help me out on what’s good cross training to do because even being on the bike hurts. I’ve heard swimming is good.  So we’ll see.

I’ve added two new things to my running arsenal…Tiger Balm and an awesome pair of R.E.I. compression shorts.  Tiger Balm is a heating agent which is what the Dr. said to put on before running/working out.  Then the compression shorts help keep the heat on longer during a run.  Again, we’ll see. I’ve wanted compression shorts because I love my running tights and needed a warm weather alternative.  Light running shorts just don’t do it for me. I tried on a lot of compression shorts but they were all so short! These are great because they are a perfect length and they have pockets too for my shot bloks! Hopefully I’ll be able to give these suckers a spin soon! The half is this weekend and the marathon is next!

P.S. I had a break down in the grocery store this weekend when I couldn’t keep walking to finish shopping because of the pain. Called the Dr. to leave a message with his nurse to see if I could get a cortisone shot or some kind of anti-inflammatory to allow me to run my races. I haven’t heard back. I’m sure I sounded like an addict. Perfect.  Hopefully a good running update will follow shortly.  STRETCH people, it makes a difference 🙂

Where I’d Rather Be Wednesday

I crave their brunch 7 days a week

“A great chef is an artist that I truly respect.” ~Robert Stack

A friend over at Wee Little House, has “I’d Rather Be Wearing Wednesday,” which I absolutely love! If I could raid a virtual closet, it would be hers. Anyway, it got me thinking.  If you remember I did a post awhile back about Monday mornings.  I love my job but sometimes, now that the weather is nice, I simply don’t want to be in an office all day. This is how we ended up at Where I’d Rather Be Wednesday!

This morning, as the sun creeps over the treetops to welcome what is sure to be a beautiful Spring day in Nashville, it  is especially hard to pass Marche on my way to cubeland and not pull over and ask for a job for a day.

Marche's marketplace. Picture from Metromix

Marche is a European style cafe and marketplace that has come to be my favorite weekend brunch spot. It’s not even a ten minute walk from my house and I swear I can smell the croissant french toast on any given Saturday morning. I blame this obsession with it on my dad. Mom and Dad came to visit when I was moving into my new place and we headed down there to grab some lunch and he liked it so much we went back the next day! Come to think of it, I might be able to blame all my food obsessions on my dad. We would hardly ever go to McDonald’s as kids but when we did it was because Dad was craving a big mac. Anyone who knows me knows I get some serious cravings for cheeseburgers at the most random times. But I digress, back to Marche.

It’s just so inviting to me on the corner of what is considered to be the heart of East Nashville, 10th and Main. Windows wrap around the outside giving diners the feel they are relaxing in front of their own window on the world, which for a people watcher like me, couldn’t be better! Inside it’s open, with fans whirling overhead, and the buzz of conversation is mixed with the clink of coffee cups on the naked wood tables. I adore it. The whicker chairs, the breeze meandering through the open door, the exposed kitchen, the simple flower in the center of the table, it’s simple yet otherworldly. On a Wednesday like this, although I swore I’d never want to work in food service again, I would love to be a chef at Marche.

Photo by Wander Girl on Ponder My Wanderings Blog

My sister is in culinary school and I think I am secretly jealous of her. I wish I could like her and like Margot McCormack (the mastermind behind Marche), take fresh ingredients and create something mouthwatering.  That’s why I want to work at Marche. I want to learn how to create these masterful concoctions.

So much of most of our jobs are constant to-do lists that follow you day to day and sometimes you feel you get nothing done even though you have been chugging along all day. I think because of that- even though it’s tough work, I just think there is something so satisfying and gratifying in putting a delicious meal on a table for people to enjoy with friends and family. Cooking. I with that was my to-do this today.

This Wednesday, I would rather be walking apron in hand to Marche.

Two things…

1-I’ve heard rumors about cooking classes at Marche/Margot…true or false?

2- Marche this Saturday? Bellinis and french toast? Who’s in?

Weekends are for (food)lovers- Pancakes & sunshine

“All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.”  ~John Gunther

Photo by Ree Drummond/Pioneer Woman

So here it is Tuesday and again, I’m just now putting up the latest installment of WAFFL.  I need to get my life in order. Once that happens, maybe I’ll be able to get these up Sunday night or first thing Monday morning. Until then, I must beg you and the blog gods to once again forgive me for being late. I did bring a note from home so hopefully that will help my case. It read, “Please forgive Jaye for not sitting in front of her  computer. The weather was gorgeous outside and she was busy soaking in all the sunshine.”

Even though it’s a dreary Tuesday, I think these Cinnamon Bun Pancakes will bring some sunshine…especially since it’s National Pancake Day!  They certainly brought some extra sunshine this past Saturday. One of my favorite parts of the weekend long run is the post weekend long run brunch. Mmm. The Pioneer Woman taunted me with these on her blog and Saturday I finally gave in.

I always joke about the fact that I run so I can eat and it’s definitely apparent on the weekends. Now that my long runs are double digits, there really is nothing better than a lazy Saturday/Sunday after a long run then a big breakfast and watching the Olympics. Why do I stuff my face while watching the world’s top athletes, I have no idea. It should probably inspire me to eat a powerbar but not this girl…I get inspired to eat pancakes, has browns, bacon and eggs! Don’t worry, I know there are certain things that you need to do to refuel after you’ve depleted your body after a long run but this is not that. This is just the cherry, er, pancake on top!

So this past Saturday, the boys went for their long run and I took Monkey for a walk to Fido in Hillsboro Village, my favorite weekend haunt. Like I said in the before post, my long run days are now Sunday so I had the whole morning to explore. I can’t tell you how beautiful it was outside. Oh how I’ve missed the sun. I got my vanilla latte and went to the grocery store to get what I needed to finally indulge in some pancakes when the boys got back.

Cinnamon Bun Pancakes- originally from Tasty Kitchen

Ingredients

-1 1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
-3 Tablespoons sugar
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-4 teaspoons baking powder
-1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
-2 whole eggs beaten
-1 cup milk
-2 Tablespoons Corn Syrup
-1/4 cups butter, melted
-1 Tablespoon vanilla

Directions

-In medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and cinnamon with a whisk to make sure everything is combined
-In a separate  large bowl, beat together eggs, milk, corn syrup, butter and vanilla.
-Stir in flour mixture
-Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium/low heat. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto griddle. Brown on both sides.
-Serve warm with icing drizzled on top

Side note…Have you ever tried to cook at someone else’s house? Have you ever tried to cook at an all boy’s house? Needless to say, I spent more time searching for the measuring cups than actually making everything. But the boys house is now stocked with the baking staples 🙂

I whipped everything up and the boy got them going on the griddle. I’m not sure what it is, but I could put pancakes on for the exact same time and mine would burn while the boy’s would turn out glowing in golden brown perfection. I think it’s in his genes, and I am thankful for that!

Monkey and his Saturday morning Fido friend

The pancakes were awesome! I was a little nervous they would be too cinnamony and it would overpower the pancakes but no such thing happened. We loved them! We drizzled maple syrup over them but next time I want to try the icing below for the full cinnamon bun effect!

Icing

-3/4 cup powdered sugar
-2 Tablespoons melted butter
-2 Tablespoons milk

What is your favorite post long run meal or your indulgence on the weekends?

Also, I’m going to do a WAFFL for runners and talk about how you should truly fuel and refuel before/during and after a long run so if you have any tips, let me know and I’ll be sure to include them!

Weekends are for (food)lovers

This weekend has been all about food, friends, football and running which in my book is close to perfect. But the best part about this weekend is still to come. I get an extra day! Can you sense the excitement? Now that we’ve covered that,back to the food, once I decided that I was going to run a marathon, I knew I should probably eat better. With a crazy schedule and running it’s so hard to get back and make time to make a healthy dinner, unless I want to eat at 9:30…which sadly at that point is about my bedtime. So, I instated cook-for-the-week weekends. The first one was last weekend where I made all the food for the week on Sunday while watching football and it was great!

I really love to cook but I’m still in the 30 minute meal/foodnetwork stage of my life. Unlike my sister the chef, I can’t measure ingredients with my hands, throw exotic ingredients together to get extravagant results or even keep 30 minute meals from turning into an hour process. I need simple, I need fast and I need pictures. Sounds elementary (which it is) but I’m learning. I love food and as a closet foodie I hope that one day I will graduate from this culinary stage of my life. However, while I’m here, I figure I can share. I cook for two reasons. 1- to keep lunch/dinner a tad healthier as to not eat pasta (my first love) every night when I get home 2- for friends. I love cooking for people whether it be groups or just one. This weekends are for food lovers, and yes, we will make shirts, is for the latter reason.

Two of my favorite recipes from this weekend have been the Chicken Braid (recipe from a wonderful friend) and Frittatas (compliments of my favorite: Giada De Laurentiis).  I get so excited about Food Network’s Saturday morning shows, you’d think I was a five year old with my cocoa puffs watching Saturday morning cartoons. I still revert back to cocoa puffs probably more than I should but these delicious fritattas are about as simple.Frittatas are a type of italian omelet, sans the folding, that is normally prepared in a skillet but for these treats you use muffin pans.

Mini Frittatas- Image from Food Network

Mini Frittatas

-Cooking spray
-8 large eggs
-1/2 cup whole milk
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-1/4 tsp salt
-4 oz. thinly sliced ham, chopped
-1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
-2 Tbsp chopped fresh italian parsley

*A couple notes before we get started: The parmesan has to be fresh. Trust me, I like the cheap come in the bag kind too but for this you want it creamy and the kick of the fresh parmesan so this is not worth skimping on. Second, I don’t like parsley so I substituted chopped green onions and thought it was delicious. I could add onion to everything though.

Instructions

-Preheat oven to 375 degrees
-Spray  muffin tins with spray (the recipe says mini but anything that combines mini and food frustrates me so I used the regular size)
-Whisk eggs, milk, pepper and salt in large bowl
-Stir in ham, cheese and parsley (in my case, onions)
-Fill muffin cups almost to the top with the egg mixture
-Bake until egg mixture puffs and is just set in the center (For minis 8-10 minutes. Since I used larger muffin tins it took about double that)
-Using rubber spatula, loosen frittatas and serve immediately

These are wonderful.  I made cinnamon rolls with them. Bacon/sausage would be good as well with it.

Next up, the Chicken Braid, a meal that is not only full of a deliciously creamy mix of cheese, chicken, veggies wrapped in a soft flaky crust, but it looks very impressive but again is super simple. Perfect, right up my alley!

Chicken Braid- looks fancy doesn't it

Chicken Braid

-2 cups chopped chicken (I shredded an already cooked rotisserie chicken)
-2 cups finely chopped broccoli
-1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
-1 clove chopped garlic
-1 cup of mayo (my friend suggested 1/2 cup of cream of chicken soup and 1/2 cup miracle whip instead which worked well)
-2 cups grated sharp cheddar
– 2 packages of crescent rolls

Instructions

-Mix all of the ingredients listed above (sans crescent rolls) together in a large bowl
-On a cookie sheet, lay out both packages of crescent rolls and press the seams together (make sure you do this really well because once you pull the dough to braid, it will break apart at the seams)
-Place the mixture down the center of the crescent rolls (length of the rectangle dough)
-Make 8-10 equal cuts on either side of the exposed crescent rolls
– Lift each coordinating strip on either side together and cross the strips across the mixture. Continue doing this till the entire braid is finished
-Brush dough with egg whites and sprinkle with almonds (optional)
– Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown

This was SO good! I served it with salad but soup could also be good.

Enjoy until next weekend!