Mushroom and Kale Egg Bake

Mushroom and Kale Egg BakeAdulting is hard stuff. Sure, there are the big things like taking care of kids or parents, unexpected car and home repairs, dealing with awful work situations, but sometimes the littlest things feel the most difficult. These days, one of my biggest dilemmas is finding what to feed myself in the mornings that is convenient, nourishing, and so tasty I’ll be psyched to eat it a few days a week. This mushroom and kale egg bake hits all the marks!

Mushroom and Kale Egg BakeI’ll be the first to say that when it comes to breakfast, I’m picky. It’s not that I don’t like all the very many breakfast options available to me, but on weekdays, I almost always want something fast and something that isn’t sweet. I’m up so early Monday through Friday that I can’t stomach much breakfast at all let alone something sugary or even fruity. This winds up eliminating a lot of standard, and quick go-to breakfast items, like smoothies, oatmeal, and yogurt. These are all delicious things, but none that really fit what I’m looking for in breakfast these days.

Mushroom and Kale Egg BakeA lot of strategizing has caused me to embrace the egg bake as the solution to my problems. Sure, I don’t want to eat eggs five days a week, but with this make ahead, it’s easy to grab it for a few days and pepper the rest of the week with other options. While you can customize an egg bake with anything you’re craving, this mushroom and kale combination is my new and current favorite.

Mushroom and Kale Egg BakeWith only a handful of ingredients and a fairly quick preparation, this is the perfect thing to bake off on a Sunday and then feed yourself with it throughout the week, microwaving it for just a minute or so to warm it through when you want to enjoy it. I’ve frozen pieces I haven’t gotten to in a week and after a quick thaw, they’re good as new warmed up for next week or next month. I’m hooked!

Mushroom and Kale Egg BakeThe inspiration for this combination comes from a delicious mushroom toast recipe that my mom and I have been making for years around the holidays and that I think of several times a month even when it’s not anywhere near Christmastime, that’s how good it is. Garlicky kale seemed like it would be a good partner in this egg bake marriage with the buttery mushroom mixture and, well, it’s truly kismet.

Mushroom and Kale Egg BakeLots of delicious, earthy flavors in this mushroom and kale egg bake, but truly, you can use the base of this recipe to make it your own. Use it to power you through your work week mornings or even as a light lunch. While I cut this into 4-6 wedges and take them  for breakfast, this also makes a great main dish at a brunch or as a contribution to a potluck – Easter brunch recipe, maybe? What will you put in your egg bake this week?

Mushroom and Kale Egg Bake
Yields approximately 6 servings

Ingredients
1 tablespoon of butter
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
1 shallot, minced
8oz of white button mushrooms, cleaned
1/2 teaspoon of herbs de provence or dried thyme
Salt & pepper
1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons of half & half or heavy cream
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, divided
2 cups of kale, stemmed and cleaned
1 clove of garlic minced
6 eggs
1/4 cup of milk

Directions
In a large skillet, add one tablespoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of butter over medium heat. While it is melting, mince the shallot and add to pan sautéing and stirring occasionally. You’ll want to cook the shallots about 3 minutes. While the shallot is cooking, chop the mushrooms and then add to the skillet with some salt and pepper and the herbs de provence. You may need to add another teaspoon or two of olive oil to the mushrooms as they cook if they become dry. Cook mushrooms with shallots for about 5 minutes or until the mushrooms have browned nicely. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the lemon juice, cream, and half of the parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Cook for 3-4 minutes until all of the ingredients are incorporated and then remove from pan and set aside in a bowl.

Cut your clean, stemmed kale into 1/2-inch ribbons and then mince the garlic clove. Wipe out the skillet you used to cook the mushrooms and add a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic clove and sauté for a minute or two until fragrant and slightly softened. Add the kale and toss in the oil and garlic with a little bit of salt and pepper for one minute or until wilted, but not completely soft. Remove from heat, add the mushroom mixture and combine thoroughly. Allow to cool while you prepare the eggs.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. In a medium-sized bowl combine the eggs, milk, remaining parmesan cheese, salt, and lots of fresh black pepper. Prepare a 9″ round baking dish (mine is 9″ across and 3″ deep) with cooking spray or some softened butter on the bottom and around the sides. Pour the egg mixture into the baking pan and then top with heaping spoonfuls of the mushroom mixture. Use a butter knife to gently swirl the mushroom filling into the eggs and then put in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until the middle is just set and the slightly brown edges have pulled away from the sides of the baking vessel. Allow to cool slightly and then slice into wedges for serving. Can be eaten hot or at room temperature.

Pumpkin French Toast with Cinnamon Sugar Cornflake Crust

Pumpkin French Toast with Cinnamon Sugar Cornflake CrustWhew! That title is a monster! You might be asking, are all of those things really going to be in this recipe and will it really be good or just plain overwhelming? Fear not, dear readers! This recipe is as every bit delicious as it is a mouthful and I promise to never steer you wrong. If you’re looking for a lovely little Fall-inspired breakfast to have this weekend or later on in the season once the leaves have all wrapped themselves in ochre, this is it. All the flavors of Fall and home in one dish!

Pumpkin French Toast with Cinnamon Sugar Cornflake CrustPrior to moving to Minneapolis, I’d never seen French toast dipped in anything other than your standard egg custard. All of that changed, though, when I found my favorite local brunch spot, Sunnyside Up Cafe, where they rolled their French toast in crushed cinnamon-sugared cornflakes – what a surprising and delicious treat! Their Cowboy French Toast, as they called it, was unmatched in its crunch and caramelization – cornflakes and sugar browned up in butter? Help me, Rhonda!

Pumpkin French Toast with Cinnamon Sugar Cornflake CrustSadly, my beloved Sunnyside Up went out of business a year or so ago and ever since I’ve been thinking of trying my hand at recreating their French toast. I’ve hesitated though because, truth be told, I’m not the biggest fan of sweet for breakfast. Sweet and salty, yes, please, but a whole plate of sugary, syrupy breakfast makes me feel off the whole rest of the day. Last week, though, I found a beautiful cinnamon bread at the store and while we’d had a few slices for a late-night sweet treat over several days, it was starting to get a bit dry. As I made my way back through the kitchen en route to the bedroom on Saturday night, I passed it on the counter and it clicked – we could have French toast tomorrow morning! With a plan in place, I left 8 slices out on the counter, took a package of bacon out of the freezer to defrost, and off I went to slumber.

Pumpkin French Toast with Cinnamon Sugar Conflake CrustThe next morning felt like Fall, with a cooler breeze in the air and the first turning leaves spied from the kitchen window. As I began to gather my ingredients, I came across a lone can of pumpkin puree in the back of my pantry. My initial thought was “You’d better use this remaining can up from last winter before you start stockpiling cans for this season!” and as soon as the thought was complete, my stomach & brain sung “pumpkin french toast!” in unison. The rest of this story is history!

Pumpkin French Toast with Cinnamon Sugar Cornflake CrustThe pumpkin custard here is simple, but tastes like the loveliest of pies – cinnamon, vanilla, & cardamom all join the milk and eggs to round out the flavors of Fall. Rolled in a mixture of crushed cornflakes, sugar, and some more cinnamon, the French toast takes on this hard, crisp exterior that holds up well to a pat of butter and your best maple syrup. In fact, you don’t even really need the latter as this recipe is so delicious on its own, but why stop at pumpkin french toast with cinnamon sugar cornflake crust? A drizzle of maple syrup, a slice or two of bacon, some fresh berries and this is the stuff of dreams – autumnal dreams! Serve this to your favorite wearer(s) of plaid & enjoy!

Pumpkin French Toast with Cinnamon Sugar Cornflake CrustNote: Exciting news at Femme Fraîche – I was able to upgrade my camera just last week, which means I have a bunch more megapixels to capture and play with. While these photos were taken with the new baby, it was less than 24 hours after its arrival, so they might not look so great while I get up to speed on all of the new bells & whistles. Prettier (less grainy?) photos to come!

Pumpkin French Toast with Cinnamon Sugar Cornflake Crust
Yields 8 slices of French Toast

Ingredients:
8 slices of a sturdy bread, such as brioche, that has been left out on the counter overnight or is a few days old
3 eggs
1/2 cup of whole milk or half & half
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2-1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon, separated
2-3 shakes of nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon of cardamom
5 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar, separated
1/3 cup of canned, pureed pumpkin; not canned pumpkin pie filling
2 cups of cornflakes
Small pinch of salt
4 Tablespoons of butter, plus more for serving
Maple syrup, optional
Fresh berries, optional

Directions:
Set out 8 slices of bread overnight to dry out a bit so that they will absorb maximum pumpkin custard and flavor when you make your French toast. In a resealable gallon bag, pour 2 cups of cornflakes, 1-1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 5 Tablespoons of sugar, and a small pinch of salt. Crush together until all of the cornflakes are broken down coarsely. Pour contents onto a large platter and set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the 3 eggs and milk until well incorporated. Add the remaining cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, 2 teaspoons of sugar, and vanilla. Whisk together, then add the pumpkin puree and stir until combined.

In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat as you dip each piece of bread in the pumpkin custard. Depending on your bowl, you can submerge each piece for a minute or so, or soak each side for approximately a minute each. When your bread has absorbed a enough custard, transfer to the platter of cornflakes and coat with the mixture. Pat mixture onto both sides with a little pressure so that the cornflakes adhere well. Add to melted butter in the pan and follow suit with 3 others slices. Cook in two batches of 4 for approximately 3-4 minutes a side or until cornflakes are golden brown and smell of caramelized sugar and butter. Use remaining two tablespoons of butter to melt in the pan between batches.

When finished, allow French toast to sit for 2 minutes so that the coating hardens up. Top with a pat of butter, a drizzle of maple syrup, and fresh berries if desired.

 

Paczki Day is over and all I have to show for it is this animated GIF.

I was so caught up in the fever of Valentine’s Day this year – making mugs for besties, baking peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies for care packages, and planning a fun day with Bear – that I totally blew it on Paczki Day! In case this is the first time you’ve encountered the word, paczkis (pronounced PUNCH-key) are basically a glorified Polish jelly donut filled with either a custard or fruit preserve. They usually have a glazed or powdered sugar exterior, though on occasion they’re left plain. The dough is rich and buttery and, in most cases, the pastry is deep-fried.

Pause. Take it in. Maybe wipe away the drool. Do we need to re-cap? Custard, jellies, glaze, powdered sugar, butter, and fried sweet dough. What’s not to love? These decadent little puffs are traditionally made in early February and kept around at some bakeries through Easter Sunday. But official Paczki Day, which traditionally falls on the last Tuesday before Ash Wednesday (commonly known as Fat Tuesday), is for some bakers the only day in the whole year that they make and sell them! Just a taste of gluttony before that month of fasting and penance. Oh, Catholicism!

While we had plans to track down and sample paczkis from the small handful of locations in the Twin Cities and prepare a formal dossier, we only managed to try two versions. We had a set from our local grocery store last week, which were decent enough for a donut fix. Their fillings were custard, raspberry, and lemon; all a bit too sweet for my tastes and pretty artificial in terms of flavor. Considering the dearth of decent, cheap donuts available though, they definitely filled some sort of void…which was later replaced with some feelings of regret.

We also made it to Sarah Jane’s Bakery in Northeast Minneapolis and sampled their selection – chocolate-covered custard, glazed raspberry and peach. These were much better in that you could taste the butter in the dough and they had that yellow hue that only comes from real eggs. The dough itself was my favorite part, with their glazes also being really delicious and slightly crunchy. I would have been one content cupcake with just a glazed, un-filled paczki, but this is tradition we’re talking about and there are to be no substitutions. The custard and raspberry confiture were average, but the peach paczki really out-shined them both. The woman behind the counter convinced us to try one and I’m glad we gave in because it was the best of the bunch.

Having not been able to seek out paczkis on actual Paczki Day, we missed a few local spots to sample from, but there’s always next year. Considering the number of paczkis we’ve eaten in the last few weeks, coupled with Valentine’s Day sweets and candy, our pancreas are probably all the better for it.

If you’re looking to try making paczkis yourself, this looks like a really fantastic recipe.