Guest Blogging

20120813-100459.jpg
I am so excited to guest blog for my good friend Morgan at The Smore’s. Party of Four. Morgan is a super crafty momma to the sweetest little girl and has a little boy on the way! Her blog documents the life of her family’s adventures, home decor, crafts, and recipes. Check out my post here.

Advertisements

Ham Cups with Eggs

Image

My mom was a big fan of traditions. Every New Years Eve while my dad worked the night shift in the ED, my mom would gather up my sisters, brother, and I, and make us elaborate treats instead of our usual dinner. This included ham, swiss, and pineapple skewers, chocolate covered frozen bananas, petite fours, and plastic champagne glasses filled to the brim with sparkling grape juice. As we waited for midnight to arrive we would always watch “Sabrina” with Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart. Her very favorite part was the scene where she learns how to crack eggs one handed. One year on new years day my mom decided it was time I learned how to crack an egg “Audrey style”. She took out a big bowl and a dozen eggs. She showed me how to quickly crack and separate the shells using only one hand. Then she watched as I attempted to do the same. It wasn’t pretty and we spent a fair amount of time picking shells out of the bowl but after the first 6 eggs I figured it out and have done it that way ever since. That was probably 15 years ago but every single time I crack an egg with one hand, I think of her. When I have kids I hope I remember that it’s the little things you do with them that they’ll remember forever.

 Image

These ham cups with eggs are inspired by Gale Gand’s brunch cookbook and a few pinterest pictures. 🙂 Many of the recipes call for muffin tins but either my tins were too small or my ham was too large so I used ramekins instead. This breakfast is so delicious and can help you get rid of any leftover veggies you have. They are perfect to make in the morning since they can cook while you get ready and you can make as many or as few as you want.

 Image

Ham Cups with Eggs

Makes 4

  • 4 ham slices (1/16 inch thick)
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 big handful of spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 Cup broccoli chopped
  • 1 Cup cheese (I used Colby jack)
  • Salt and freshly cracked pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F and butter your ramekins. Fold ham in half then in half again. Put the ham (point side down) into the ramekin and allow it to open. Carefully crack two eggs into liquid measuring cup (a paper cup would also work) then pour the eggs into the ham cups. Repeat with the remaining eggs (using two eggs in each ramekin). Top with spinach, broccoli, cheese, salt and pepper. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until whites are set but yolks are still a little runny.

Bourbon French Toast

Image

Living in a small town in the Midwest can be difficult sometimes, especially when you are looking for specialty foods. However being in a college town of about 150,000 you can get lucky sometimes. I found Chinese 5 spice powder on my first try.  Tahini paste was a different story. The first time I ever tried to find it at the regular grocery store was definitely a learning experience. After 30 minutes of wandering the “international aisle” I finally gathered the courage to ask an employee. He looked at me with a bewildered expression and went to go “find the manager” who never showed up. I learned a valuable lesson that day, #1. Always know exactly what it is that you are looking for (I had never seen Tahini paste and had no idea what it looked like). #2. Specialty stores can be your best friend (I found a small business that had an entire isle devoted to tahini). I have wanted to make French toast with Challah bread since I saw a recipe for it about 5 years ago. I went to every “bakery”* in this town and couldn’t find a single loaf until this Saturday at the farmers market. They had just unloaded the beautiful braided loaves and it took all my self control not to buy every one they had (Okay, Nick helped restrain me a little bit).

*I put bakery in quotations because most of the so-called bakeries in this town import their bread as apposed to baking it themselves. Welcome to Champaign, IL.

Long weekends call for something a little more decadent. So I knew this was the perfect time for my French toast to make its big debut. When I want a dessert or baked good to be a little more special I turn my “Baked” cookbooks, written by the owners of the Baked Bakery in Brooklyn. I own both of their cookbooks and am constantly inspired by both the beautiful photographs and the love and passion that permeates each recipe. A quick search through their second book “Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented” and I found a recipe for their version of French toast. I opted to add bourbon (because doesn’t it make everything better?) and it was a big hit. The bread soaked up the custard mixture and the bourbon infused everything with its smoky caramel-vanilla notes. Turns out it was worth the wait.

Image

Bourbon French Toast

Adapted from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

  • 1 loaf Challah Bread (a day or two old is best)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 cup half and half
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ÂĽ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 generous tablespoon bourbon (optional)

Generously butter the sides and bottom of a 9 x 13 inch glass pan. Slice the loaf into 1-2 inch slices (I will slice mine a little thicker next time) and arrange bread in an overlapping pattern. In a large bowl add eggs, half and half, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and bourbon (if using). Whisk until combined. Pour the mixture over the bread. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight. Preheat the oven to 350. Using your fingers, flip each slice to ensure even coverage. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes (you may need to cover with foil for the last 5 to 10 minutes if they are browning too quickly) or until the bread is golden and the mixture puffs up.