Four Cheese Strata {with bacon}


Part of what’s great about the holidays is kicking the day off with an indulgent breakfast you wouldn’t normally make any other time of the year. Sometimes I make something sweet, like these lemon sticky rolls I made one Christmas, but normally I gravitate toward some sort of cheesy-eggy dish (gouda corn pudding; sausage, bacon and brie breakfast casserole; jalapeño, sausage, egg and cheese breakfast braid). I search high and low for the right recipe and I usually know immediately when I see it. So I sifted through some clipped recipes and went with a strata recipe my grandma had found in Relish magazine several years back.

The recipe called for ham and I subbed bacon because … bacon rocks. It also called for onion rolls. I couldn’t find onion rolls at the grocery store and instead went with some buttery dense rolls that I found in the bakery of my local grocery store. The recipe said you do not need to make this recipe the night before baking but I did anyway to save time in the morning.

This was one of the best holiday breakfasts I’ve had in years. I had two pieces and could have gone back for more! My dad said the same thing. I usually like to try new recipes every holiday but I could see myself making this breakfast (or variations of) for years to come.

ingredients.

  • 14 oz bread rolls, cubed (homemade or from the supermarket)
  • oz chopped cooked bacon
  • oz shredded white cheese (such as swiss, gruyere, monterrey jack, comte)
  • oz. shredded Cheddar cheese
  • oz grated Parmigiana Reggiano and Romano cheeses (mixed)
  • 4 eggs
  • tsp. Dijon mustard
  • c. milk or cream

directions.

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Butter a 9-inch deep- dish pie plate.
  2. Place cubed rolls in pan. Top with bacon and cheeses.
  3. Combine eggs, mustard and milk; whisk well. Pour over roll mixture. (This can be made the night before and chilled over night or the morning of.)
  4. Bake 30 to 45 minutes, until set and puffed. Let cool 10 minutes. (If chilling overnight, let the pie plate sit out on the counter for about an hour before baking or, if you don’t have time, you may need to bake for additional time.)

Recipe rating: 

Sweet Potato Pancakes {paleo, GF}


There are all these weird grain free pancake recipes floating around the Internet. I cannot even conceive how the ingredients make a pancake. So that’s why I am ecstatic to bring you the below recipe. It not only looks like a fairly normal-isn pancake recipe, it also produces a normal pancake.

Sometimes when you are making a grain-free pancake the texture can come out kind of odd. A bit grainy. A bit more delicate than usual. But not this recipe. It’s spot on. I would bet money that no one would know it’s grain-free by taste or texture.

I have what I consider to be a taste test for pancakes. Can I eat the pancakes without syrup? If so, then the recipe is a keeper. I don’t think you should have to drown pancakes in syrup in order to eat them. And what I will tell you is that I could eat these pancakes every day. With or without syrup.

ingredients.

  • 1 medium sweet potato, cooked, skin removed, mashed (about 1 cup)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 T. ghee, melted
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 to 1/2 c. unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or any non-dairy beverage)
  • 1 1/4 c almond flour
  • 1/4 c. tapioca flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • Grass-fed butter, ghee or coconut oil for cooking
  • Grass-fed butter or ghee, for serving
  • Pure maple syrup, for serving

directions.

  1. Beat eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add sweet potato, honey, vanilla, and ghee. Mix until combined. Add almond flour, tapioca flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Mix until well-combined. Add almond milk or other non-dairy beverage to your liking. I did not measure this but am guessing it was somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 cup. I’m guessing closer to 1/4 cup.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Melt 1 teaspoon of butter or coconut oil. Scoop approximately 1/3 cup of pancake batter and pour into skillet. Cook 2 to 3 minutes until the pancake is browned on the bottom and starting to bubble on top. Use a spatula to flip and cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat until all batter is gone. Serve hot with extra butter and pure maple syrup.

This recipe served up approximately 8 pancakes (or what I would consider two servings). I had to play around with the ingredients a bit because the recipe that I was loosely following did not contain any milk and I felt the batter was too thick and needed milk to thin it out. Then once I added some milk I had to add a bit more flour.

I think this recipe would be fantastic with pumpkin or banana in place of the sweet potato.

Recipe rating: 

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Caramel Chocolitas


As the holidays grow near I find myself yearning for all things holiday (like being off work, food and Christmas cookies). I go back and forth between being very festive and not festive at all. This year I’m feeling festive. Which means I will take the holiday by storm with food.

For some people, Black Friday is for shopping. When I was growing up it was the day we went and chopped down or own Christmas tree, decorated it, hung Christmas lights, etc. It was also a day that my mom got to baking Christmas cookies. As an adult, I try to keep the family traditions alive. I will say that it’s hard to feel all Christmas-y as I write this and the temperature outside is 76.

For Christmas cookie making this year I want to do a mix of old recipes and new. But mainly I want to try new ones. I’ve seen recipes for Chocolate Caramelitas floating around for years but never got around to making any. I found a recipe for Caramel Chocolitas from Better Homes and Gardens, which is basically the same thing as Chocolate Caramelita I believe, and the relative simplicity of it won me over.

Speaking of winning things over, these bars will do just that to anyone with whom you share.

ingredients.

  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 3/4 c. quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • c. butter, melted (or brown your butter which will kick this recipe up a notch!)
  • 14 oz package vanilla caramels, unwrapped
  • 1/3 c. milk
  • c. semisweet chocolate pieces (plus additional for garnish)
  • c. milk chocolate pieces (plus additional for garnish)
  • 1 c. chopped pecans (plus additional for garnish)

directions.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with parchment paper, extending it over edges of pan. Spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, soda, and salt. Add melted butter and mix until crumbly. Reserve half of crumb mixture for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture in bottom of prepared baking pan.
  3. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine caramels and milk. Microwave on 50 percent power (medium) for 4 to 6 minutes or until caramels are melted and mixture is smooth, stirring as needed.
  4. Sprinkle chocolate pieces and pecans over crust in pan. Drizzle evenly with melted caramel mixture and sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Sprinkle with additional chocolate chips and pecan pieces.
  5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Use the parchment paper to lift uncut bars out of pan. Cut into bars.

These bars were a huge hit with my coworkers. I loved them as well but thought they were missing one tiny thing that would have made them a mega-hit: flakey sea salt on top. I would highly recommend!

Recipe rating: 

Greek Yogurt Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes


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If you’ve seen a lot of banana posts recently it’s because I have bananas that I need to get rid of before they totally spoil. After making some cookies, I was toiling with what other dishes I could make to use up the four bananas sitting on my counter. The obvious banana bread/muffins came to mind but then I decided maybe I should make some pancakes. After all, any time is a good time to eat pancakes. It doesn’t have to be a weekend morning or any morning for that matter.
So I looked up some recipes for Greek yogurt pancakes because I knew I’d seen some before and I landed on this recipe from Live Well Bake Often. While it had nothing to do with bananas, I thought it was a good start for Greek yogurt pancakes. I figured I could substitute the eggs for bananas and that would be good enough.

My first go-round was OK. I used two cups of multi-grain flour and the pancakes spread out a bit too much despite the fact that they batter seemed really thick. I added more flour on the second batch I put on the griddle and that solved that problem. What I didn’t like was that there wasn’t an overwhelming taste of banana. It was like hint of banana. And I forgot to add the salt so that didn’t help matters out at all. Also, I remembered why in the past I’ve never mixed chocolate straight into the pancake batter: it burns on the griddle. Normally I would add chocolate chips individually to each pancake once on the griddle and try to poke the chocolate chips down into the batter with my spatula so that the chocolate was not touching the surface and, therefore, wouldn’t burn. I was reminded why I always used that technique the first time I tried this recipe.

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ingredients.

  • 2 to 3 c. flour (use your preference)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 c. plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 c. milk
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 2 T. oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ c. mini chocolate chips (I used shards of milk chocolate from a brick of chocolate I had lying around)

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directions.

  1. Heat a large skillet or griddle to medium heat and spray well with non stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the mashed bananas, greek yogurt, milk, oil, and vanilla.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined, making sure not to over mix the batter. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.
  5. Using a ¼ cup measuring cup, scoop the batter from the bowl and drop onto the skillet or griddle. Once the top starts to bubble and the edges look set, flip and let cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  6. Serve with extra chocolate chips, fresh fruit, or pure maple syrup!

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Pumpkin Pancakes {paleo, GF}


Updated 11/19/2017

I previously wrote:

So I’m going to warn you that this is not the most technically sound recipe for pancakes. I based this recipe off of one that is vastly different than mine only because when I tried following the recipe it just didn’t make sense. So I kept adding things until I got a decent pancake. That’s why you’ll see 1/2 to 3/4 cup pumpkin puree instead of an exact amount.

Also, I’m not convinced you need 6 eggs. That amount was based on the ridiculous recipe I was trying to follow when I tripped the recipe. I think you could get away with two eggs and maybe some stiff egg whites or something. I do plan to try this recipe again and update it appropriately. But as you can see from the pictures, I did manage to jimmy together a decent looking pancake. And they tasted pretty good too!

My only complaint is that the texture of the pancake is a bit flimsy. But that’s what happens when you’re using almond four instead of regular flour. So I’ll live with the slightly strange texture and a hard to flip pancake.

And then I made some amazing sweet potato pancakes and I adjusted the below recipe to mimic the successful one I made.

directions.

  • 1 c. pumpkin puree
  • 4 to 6 T. almond milk
  • 2 T. honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 T. ghee, melted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/4 c. almond flour
  • 1/4 c. tapioca flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 T. baking powder

directions.

  1. Whisk together the wet ingredients: pumpkin puree, almond milk, honey, eggs, ghee, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Stir together until just combined.
  2. Heat a griddle or non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Coat pan with coconut oil. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the skillet. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes until the bottom is cooked through, and then flip. Cook for another 2 to 4 minutes until lightly browned. Repeat with remaining batter.
  3. Serve warm with grass-fed butter and/or pure maple syrup.

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Maple Bacon Roasted Brussels Sprouts


There was a time when I despised Brussels sprouts. I had a roommate about 10 years ago who loooooved Brussels Sprouts. She would microwave them until they were hard tiny balls and pop them into her mouth. I hated the smell. That was my first foray with Brussels sprouts; I wouldn’t touch them with a ten foot pole.

Fast forward many years later and my sister made some for me in the oven. She roasted them until they were crisp. The smell was still awful. I’m not sure why I dared even try them but she promised me they were amazing. She was right. It was love at first bite. Since then I’ve been making recipe after recipe.

One year on Thanksgiving my neighbor let me use his house to bake a few food items. Absent-mindedly, I chose to make the Brussels sprouts in his place along with one other dish. When he got home late that night he texted me and thanked me for the present of Brussels sprouts smell in his house. Incidentally, I did not use his stove the following Thanksgiving. I wonder why?

So I found this recipe for Brussels sprouts and bacon that contained Maple Syrup at Lexi’s Clean Kitchen. I admit I was both intrigued and repulsed at once. I get that maple and bacon can go together. And bacon and Brussels sprouts can go together. But all three? Now that’s a mind bender. But I decided to give it a whirl anyway. See my take on Lexi’s recipe below.

ingredients.

  • 1 lb. brussels sprouts, halved & outer leaves removed
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 to 2 T. pure maple syrup
  • 4 strips bacon

directions.

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking pan with foil.
  2. Halve brussels sprouts and remove outer leaves. Toss with oil, salt, and pepper. Roast, stirring mid-way, for 30 to 45 minutes or until desired doneness. (I like mine well done.)
  3. While roasting, cook bacon, let cool and set aside.
  4. When brussels sprouts are done, heat 1 tsp oil in a large skillet and transfer them to the skillet. Pour 1 tablespoon of maple syrup over the Brussels sprouts and toss to coat evenly. Let cook for 3 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring often. Taste and add the second tablespoon of maple syrup, based on desired taste (I didn’t add it and regret it.
  5. Sprinkle bacon, and extra sea salt on top; serve hot. Serves two to four, depending on serving size.

When all was said and done, I found that the Brussels had little to know maple taste. I only used one tablespoon of syrup but found myself oddly disappointed that I didn’t get much of the flavor of all three tastes (Brussels sprouts, bacon and maple). That being said, the dish was still really good. I reheated it the following day and accidentally burned it a bit in the oven. I found I liked it even more!

Recipe rating: 

Tangy BBQ Sauce {paleo}


The fact that I even made this sauce is a bit comical to me. It didn’t occur to me until I was almost done stirring all the ingredients together that I actually do not really like barbecue sauce. It’s one of the last condiments I would try if there were a condiment buffet in front of me. I like it moderately better than honey mustard, which I hate. I was telling my coworker that I made it and he actually asked me why because he knows I generally do not like sweet sauces that go on meat.

The good news for me is that this doesn’t taste even remotely sweet in my opinion. It is definitely tangy though. The recipe below is based closely on one found at Paleo Newbie.

ingredients.

  • 1 1/2 c. beef stock
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced or 1 tsp. minced garlic (store bought in a jar)
  • 6 oz. can of tomato paste
  • 1/4 c. of raw honey
  • 1 T. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 T. dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ancho chile powder

directions.

  1. Simmer the beef stock and garlic together in a saucepan on medium heat for about 5 minutes. You should be able to smell the garlic. Add all remaining ingredients and whisk together in saucepan.
  2. Simmer on low heat for about 25 minutes so the flavors meld. Once sauce has simmered, bottle it up and store in refrigerator. Sauce keeps for up to one month.

Recipe rating: 

Microwave Breakfast Soufflé


I am obsessed with what I call Breakfast Souffle. Call it what you’d like. Breakfast cake. Cake in a jar. Mug cake. Microwave banana bread. I guess any of them would fit. I like to call it breakfast souffle because it’s so versatile I don’t want to pin down a specific flavor. I’ve had pumpkin, sweet potato and banana by accident when I forgot to add pumpkin puree. And that was delicious too!

All I do is throw all the ingredients in a handheld blender the night before – except for the banana – and whirl it around. In the morning I add the banana, give it another whirl and the microwave, baby. Three to four minutes later I have my breakfast souffle. The ingredients are simple and plain but you could pep it up with anything you like. Diced apples. Chopped nuts. Cacao nibs. Chocolate chips. (I saw dairy-free, sugar-free chocolate chips at Von’s the other day, by the way. Wonder how they taste!) The sky’s the limit. This dessert-like breakfast keeps me satisfied for hours. I make it at work and let the aroma of the spices waft through our suite. One morning I had my coworkers try it and they loved it too.

So what are you waiting for?

ingredients.

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 to 3 T. pumpkin, sweet potato, butternut squash, etc., puree (pumpkin is my favorite)
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, etc.
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • Additional pure maple syrup for garnish
  • Nuts, seeds, cacao nibs, diced apples, chocolate chips, berries, etc.

directions.

  1. Combine all ingredients through pure maple syrup (the first one) in a hand-held blender. Whirl until completely blended. Pour into a bowl, mug or mason jar and heat in the microwave on high for 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Garnish with more syrup or any of your favorite toppings. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes before eating. This dish retains its heat!

Recipe rating: 

Spicy Dry Rub


It’s hard to judge the tastiness of a rub because it’s not like you just … eat it. You know? But after using it on a pork butt roast, I am fairly confident that I can accurately judge the taste. And I would categorize it as awesome. I patted this rub all over my pork butt and then roasted it for a few hours. The rub got singed into the outside of the roast and the though the roast itself was delightful, the best part about it was the parts of the roast crusted with this rub. I just couldn’t get enough of it!

The rub couldn’t be easier to make. Just mix the ingredients together and store in a jar until you’re ready to pat it onto your meat.

ingredients.

  • 4 tsp. dried rosemary, broken
  • 4 tsp. dry mustard
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 ½ tsp. sea salt
  • 1 ½ tsp. dried garlic
  • 1 ½ tsp. ancho chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper

directions.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Makes about 1/2 cup. Store in a glass jar or other airtight container if not immediately using.

Recipe rating: 

Twice Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Spicy Honey Butter


I ripped this recipe out of a Bon Appetit magazine a year or two ago and had been wanting to make it ever since. Somehow I never got around to making it until today.

The magazine describes the recipe as “easy” but I find it a bit putzy. Still, usually putzy recipes translate to worth it.

This dish has a great flavor. I would warn not to roast the potatoes too long as I did. When I tried to rip the potatoes apart they were just too mushy to get solid chunks of potato. Despite that fact, the taste was spot on. I would make these again and recommend them to anyone who loves sweet potatoes. I used raw honey and grass-fed butter to make the dish paleo, but regular old honey and regular old butter would work just fine as well.

ingredients.

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes or garnet yams, scrubbed (about 3 pounds)
  • 1 Fresno or other red chiles, thinly sliced
  • ¼ c. raw honey
  • 4 T. grass-fed butter
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 T. apple cider vinegar

directions.

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Poke holes all over sweet potatoes and wrap each in foil. Place on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and roast until potatoes are tender, 60 to 70 minutes.
  2. Unwrap and let sit until cool enough to handle. Increase oven temperature to 450°. Meanwhile, combine chile, honey, and butter in a small saucepan; season with salt. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring to combine. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar.
  3. Smash sweet potatoes with your palm, then tear into bite-sized pieces (including skin), the more irregular, the better. Place in a large bowl and add half of hot honey (do not include chile as it will burn – this is an important step to follow!); season with salt.
  4. Arrange pieces, skin side down, in a single layer on an unlined rimmed baking sheet and roast until browned and crisp around the edges, 20–25 minutes. Drizzle with remaining hot honey with chile.

Recipe rating: 