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.

 

Sunday Morning Breakfast Pie

In my world, Sundays are the best days. Even though there is the inevitable moment or two, as the day winds down, where you feel the disappointment of an ending weekend, Sundays provide ample time for slowness and care. I hate leaving the house on Sunday. Saturday brunch? Fantastic. Sunday? No, thanks. I have something low and slow I want to get in the oven for a late afternoon meal. I want to spend the day catching up with my mom on the phone, watch a movie on the couch under blankets, work on a project that gives me some happiness. Sundays are pleasurable, are down time, family time, home time. Sundays make me want to strip and freshen the bed, change the tablecloth, only so I can cozy up to them both later for early bedtime reading or dessert.

When all works in my favor and I’m aimed to have a Sunday like this one described, I want something for breakfast that is delicious, that feels decadent, that takes some time, but doesn’t have me in the kitchen for 2 hours. Give me homemade biscuits and tomato gravy. French toast. Breakfast Pie.

The latter has all the tenets of a perfect Sunday morning dish. It’s comforting, it’s satisfying, and it’s completely customizable to your tastes and pantry. Which, when really taking things slow and enjoying the simple pleasures of Sunday, allow you to appeal to your deepest gustatory desires. If you have a sense of what things you might like in quiche or frittata, those same things work here. In essence, you’re creating a kind of breakfast pizza sans sauce (though no one is saying you couldn’t make hollandaise!). While I happened to have a Trader Joe’s pizza crust on hand, forming the base for this, I’ve used this 30-minute dough recipe before and it’s both tasty and easy. While it’s resting, you can prep the rest of your ingredients, keeping time on your side.

Today’s breakfast pie had to do with clearing out some leftovers in the fridge – 2 handfuls of cooked, cold hashbrowns, a small piece of purple onion, some cooked bacon hanging out in the cheese bin from earlier in the week – while having something toasty and cheesy on my plate by the time a load of laundry was done. This is a great recipe for getting creative, for making substitutions that – within reason – work, only taking you in a different direction, not throwing off the whole dish. It can be really down-home or made fancier with something like fresh dill and smoked salmon. It’s great right after it’s set out of the oven or at room temperature, making it perfect for a brunch buffet or potluck, too. Depending on what else is on the table, it can easily serve a small crowd.

Sunday Morning Breakfast Pie
6-8 servings

Ingredients:
1 pizza dough, room temperature (I used Trader Joe’s dough. Homemade is great, but dough in the refrigerated tube works too!)
5 eggs
1/4 cup of milk or cream
Salt & Pepper
1-cup of pre-cooked hashbrowns (or any kind of pre-cooked potatoes)
6 slices of pre-cooked bacon, chopped
1-1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
3 Tablespoons of diced red onion
4oz. of cream cheese cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a quarter sheet pan with a 1-inch edge and roll your room temperature dough into the corners and up the sides of the pan. If the dough is cold, it will shrink down and not allow you to completely spread it to the size of the pan, so make sure it is room temperature. Cover the bottom of the dough with a cup of the mozzarella. When melted, this will provide enough barrier from the wetness of the egg mixture to keep your bottom crust crusty and brown as opposed to mushy. Next sprinkle the potatoes over the cheese and follow with the chopped bacon, evenly distributing the ingredients. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and the milk with salt and pepper and pour the mixture over bottom of the dough slowly, making sure it gets into the corners and between the pieces of potato and bacon. You should have an even, eggy layer spotted with bacon and potatoes. Next, sprinkle the diced red onion over the top and scatter the cubes of cream cheese over the egg mixture as well, making sure they are halfway submerged. Sprinkle the top of the pie with the remaining mozzarella cheese and bake for 30 minutes. After the half hour has elapsed, check the dish. If the crust is brown, but the egg is not entirely set in the center, put your broiler on low and allow to cook an additional 5 minutes, or as needed, checking regularly. When finished baking, allow to cool slightly and set up for approximately 5-7 minutes. Cut into wedges or squares and serve. I like mine dotted with hot sauce.