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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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!

Fall is the New Spring

“Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.” ~William Cullen Brynat

 

From We Heart It

 

Spring is overrated.  At least in my book.  I’m not sure what it is but I’ve always felt more alive and more at home in the rich reds, welcoming oranges, comforting yellow and soothing browns than the bright pastels of spring.

Fall has always meant exciting new beginnings.  From working in the publishing world where you hoard all your  best books until Fall for release in  anticipation of the Christmas rush to now being back on a school schedule, Fall means things are happening.  It’s always been my favorite time of year.

This week is Fall Break and as I was driving through the rolling hills of Kentucky into Tennessee yesterday, my heart was utterly and simply happy.  The colors were stunning and there was just something in the air.  I love Nashville in the Fall.

I don’t know about you but my whole taste shifts in the fall.  It is the oddest thing.  My car is filled with music from Iron and Wine to Sarah Barielles (seriously great Fall music, get her new cd, it’s on repeat in my car).  I have the urge to make pies and pumpkin cookies (I have some great fall recipes coming later this week).  The beer selection in my fridge changes from refreshing golden wheat to hearty oktoberfests, ambers and spicy pumpkin beers and I like my coffee to have tastes of caramel, toffee or pumpkin. And who doesn’t like pulling out those fall sweaters and boots for the first time.  But more than going back to those fall traditions, tastes and activities, it’s also a time of renewal.

 

Also from We Heart It

 

This is an odd dichotomy I know but the way fall enters does this with such grace might be the secret to why I love it so much.  I have always been someone who despite loving to try new things, there are some things I will never give up.

Everything in my life is new right now. I am embracing it and loving every minute of learning and meeting new people, but this fall break I can’t tell you how excited I am to be back in Nashville, to catch up with the friends that are my heart and soul.  Fall is the time when you gather.  Whether it be for football, to pick out that perfect pumpkin, or Thanksgiving, we gather.  We gather and are thankful.  These people, just like fall traditions, inspire me and energize me.  This fall I have so much to be thankful for.

Not only that but there are so many new things happening this fall.  I am learning so much and thriving off of doing what I love every single day (and most of every night right now 😉  Just like the leaves, everything is changing and I am so excited about it.  This is my time to grow…why wait for Spring?

So here’s to corn mazes, pumpkin spice lattes, pies, pumpkin patches, cozy cups of coffee while reading the latest book from your favorite writer, football, dinners with friends, family and spiced apple cider.  Here’s to the colors changing, leaves crunching under each step of a morning run, and to that something in the air that heralds in the new season, filled with the people we love, traditions we cherish and the changes to come.  Happy Fall!