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?

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Oktoberfest Y’all

“I’ve decided to retire and let myself go. I’ll have potatoes for lunch and potatoes for dinner and beer. God, I love beer! And treacle pudding and cherry tart and cream, cream, cream, cream, cream, cream … as god is my judge, I’ll never eat a lettuce leaf again.” ~ from the movie “Being Julia”

oktoberfest-zinzinnati-logoYou can smell it in the air.  You can feel it in your bones.  Those crisp fall mornings that whisper Fall is on her way…those are the mornings I love.  Just recently Summer has been wearing out her welcome here in Cincinnati, and those cool mornings are the ones that greet me as I head to the gym before work.  And I for one, could not be happier.

This past weekend, Cincinnati, or Zinzinnati, ushered in Fall as only Zinzinnati can…Oktoberfest.  Touted as the biggest and most authentic Oktoberfest this side of Munich, I could almost smell the potato pancakes, bratwurst, and strudel from my office on Friday.  I love that Cincinnati does this.  What better way to ring in my favorite season of the year.  Plus…there’s beer.  Fall beer.  Oktoberfest beer.  What could be better.

ImageSince our office is right on the square, during lunch, we went to go watch the Running of the Wieners.   This event kicks off Oktoberfest, and yes, it was as great as it sounds.  From what I was told, if you have a wiener dog, you pay $50 to get a hotdog uniform (either mustard or ketchup) and a shirt that declares, “I’m a Wiener”.  Then you get placed in a heat, bring your pup to the square, and watch those little legs run.  It was hilarious.  These little pups were like celebrities.  I felt like I was watching the opening credits of 101 Dalmatians.  Each owner looked exactly like his or her pup.  I just couldn’t get enough.

Since the Husband has three tests coming up this week, we weren’t able to take part in Zinzinnati Oktoberfest more than an after work Sam Adam’s Oktoberfest.  But that doesn’t mean we didn’t help welcome Fall.

So while some in Zinzinnati welcomed Fall wearing  lederhosen, stein in hand, we welcomed her with football, walks along the trail way, and a fall feast.  I love everything fall, the boots, the sweaters, the books, but I especially fall flavors.  Even though we couldn’t go have a brat on the square, I wanted to come up with something fun to make while we watched football Sunday night…ahem…while we watched the Steelers try to play football Sunday night.  But that’s besides the point.  Enter Jenna from Eat, Live, Run.  I started reading her blog in law school and whenever I had time to try a new recipe I tried one of Jenna’s.  In this household, we’re Jenna fans.  So of course that was the first blog I visited.  And low and behold, she dishes up another winner: Beer Brats with Caramelized Onions.

Perfect.

IMG_1351We made sweet potato fries to go with them and it was the perfect fall dinner.  We’ve been eating pretty clean here at the McGlothlin household recently so typically I would use olive oil to coat the sweet potatoes, and I normally would have used turkey sausage as a substitute for the brats.  But it’s Fall.  And let’s be honest, sometimes you just have to bring it in for the real thing.

Jenna suggested a holiday beer or pumpkin beer to soak the brats.  I used Southern Tier Pumking, which ended up being a bit too sweet once it cooked down.  You’ll want a full, flavorful seasonal with a little kick.  I think next time I might try Dogfish Punkin or Buffalo Bill’s Pumpkin Ale.  Or if you want to pick up the beer while you’re getting everything else on the list, Sam Adam’s Harvest Pumpkin Ale would be a good bet.  Whatever you choose, make sure you get enough so you can enjoy some while you cook.  Prost!

Beer Brats & Caramelized Onions
Originally from Eat, Live, Run

Ingredients
– 1 lb. bratwurst
– 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
– 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
– 1 bottle beer (12 oz)
– 1 Tbsp olive oil
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 Tbsp light brown sugar
– 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions
– Turn on the grill outside and let it heat up.
– Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan.
– Once hot, add the onions and saute for about 10 minutes, until golden.
– Add the thinly sliced garlic and saute for another three minutes until toasty.
– Add the bratwursts to the pan, along with the beer. Stir and bring to a boil.
– Cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the brats turn white.
– Remove the sausages and place on a plate.
– Turn the heat to high so the beer mixture boils again.
– Add the salt, brown sugar and Worcestershire.
– Stir well and continue boiling.
– While the “sauce” is boiling, grill the sausages for only about 5 minutes, you just want to finish them on the grill.
– When done, bring the sausages back inside and place them back in the beer sauce and spoon sauce over.
– Serve brats with sauce and onions on top. (We toasted some buns and ate them that way…if your grocery store has pretzel buns, definitely go for those).

I'm sorry, I just can't get this image out of my head.

I’m sorry, I just can’t get this image out of my head.

Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients
– 1-2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
– Melted butter (just enough to lightly coat the potatoes…and don’t skimp here.  For some reason olive oil just doesn’t have the same effect taste-wise and baking-wise)
– A couple shakes of course sea salt

Directions
– Pre-heat the oven the 375
– Mix the potato slices, melted butter and salt together
– Spread the potato slices on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes
– After 10 minutes flip the potatoes and cook for 10 more minutes
– Serve with a dollop of wasabi mayo

Oh, and for those who want to see the Running of the Wieners, check out the video on Instagram.

Have a great week!

Ree…You’ve Done it Again

By now you know of my utter and complete love of all things Pioneer Woman.  Here’s the thing that won me over…cookbooks and cooking magazines are hit or miss for me.  Sometimes you’ll find a great recipe and other times it’s a little bland.  Ree (Pioneer Woman) though, hits the spot every time!

So when The Boy was coming up to Cincinnati last week before fall break I wanted to figure out something delicious to make for when he got in.  In law school because of time and the budget or a grad student, cooking has gone to the wayside.  I’m more of a mac and cheese or turkey sandwich kind of girl most nights now.  I save it for special occasions and look so forward to relaxing and creating again.  So, this special occasion begged the question…What shall we have for dinner?  The Boy had said he wasn’t really in the mood for pasta (which let’s face it, that takes out half of my repertoire) so we had to be creative here…

 

"Don't ask me. I'll eat anything"

 

Caesar didn’t have any answers for me so I went to the next best thing.

Ree, what shall we have for dinner on this beautiful fall night? Oh, and it can’t be pasta.

Chicken and olives you say. Sounds interesting.  I’ll give it a try.

Yes, that conversation did go on in my head and before you start to make judgement calls about my sanity…remember friends, I do live alone.  When you should start worrying though is if I ever tell you I got a cat.  Then we’ll have an issue on our hands.

Ok, back to the chicken with olives.  I was a little skeptical because I wasn’t sure how all the flavors would work together but like I said earlier, Ree has never led me astray so I decided to try it.

It was a huge success! I was worried the olives might overpower the dish but it didn’t.  I loved it.  The flavor was different from anything I’d ever had and the sautéed chicken which then baked in the sauce cooked it to perfection.  The Boy loved it too and didn’t seem to mind that I put it over pasta.

This dish is simple and a warm hearty dish for cool fall nights.

 

Photo by Ree Drummond

 

 

 

Chicken with Olives
Originally from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients
-4 Tbs Butter
-4 Tbs Olive Oil
-6 pieces Chicken (Ree suggested to use thighs and legs which would good but I might try chicken breast next time) With Skin
-1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
-5 cloves Garlic, Minced
-2 whole Green Bell Peppers, Seeded And Chopped Into Large Pieces
-1 whole 28 Ounce Can Whole Tomatoes, Completely Drained And Juice Squeezed Out, Chopped
-1 cup White Wine (Again, grad student budget  so I used Low Sodium Chicken Broth)
-Salt
-Freshly Ground Black Pepper
-¼ cups Heavy Cream
-1 cup Whole Green Olives
-12 oz, weight Linguine, Cooked Al Dente And Drained

Another beautiful photo by Ree Drummond

Directions
-Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
-In a large ovenproof skillet, melt butter and olive oil over medium-high heat.
-Add chicken and brown on both sides. Remove chicken to a clean plate.
-Reduce heat to medium.
-Add onions, garlic, and green bell pepper to the pan. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes.
-Add tomatoes and cook for a minute or two.
-Season with salt and pepper.
-Pour in wine/broth and stir.
-Add chicken pieces back to pan, cover with lid, and place into the oven for 45 minutes.
-Remove pan from oven and remove lid.
-Add whole green olives and heavy cream (drizzle evenly over the top.)
-Put on lid and shake the pan to “stir” in the cream.
-Return to the oven for 15 to 20 minutes to thicken the sauce.
-Remove from oven and keep lid on until ready to serve.

 

Place pasta into a large serving bowl or platter and lay chicken pieces on top.  Pour all of the sauce over the top and sprinkle with Parmesan.

– – –

Cooks out there…what’s your favorite oven proof skillet or dutch oven? I would love to get one and would love some suggestions.

Happy Fall!