Layered egg casserole for a lazy Sunday

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Happy Easter. When I was growing up, days like this were spent as lazy days with the family, eating a couple hard-boiled eggs and toast before diving into the Easter candy. I still like to have an easy breakfast on Easter. This year, I decided to put together a make-ahead egg casserole. It was surprisingly simple, though I’d use smaller dishes next time so the portions are smaller.

I have a set of baking dishes that were branded as ramekins, but are actually quite huge. I used two of those for this recipe, but you can use a muffin tin and divide the layers accordingly. This would likely make four or five muffin-size casseroles.

Ingredients
1 Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausage, crumbled
1 head of broccoli, chopped
8 eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt
Beecher’s Smoked Flagship Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray ramekins with cooking spray, or grease with butter.

Put 1/4 of the crumbled sausage at the bottom of each ramekin. Put half of the broccoli on top of the sausage. Pour half of the eggs in each ramekin. Top with the remainder of the sausage. Bake for 30 minutes, or until eggs are cooked.

Once the casseroles are done, use a knife to separate the casseroles from the sides of the ramekins. Overturn onto a plate and grate some cheese on top. Serve warm.

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A better way to make bacon

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I know very few people who dislike bacon. It seems to be quite the trending food lately, and people are getting creative with things such as chocolate-covered bacon, candied bacon, and more. But I like to keep it basic.

Up until about five years ago, I used to make my bacon in a frying pan like everyone else I knew. Then one of my coworkers told me he baked his. I tried it, and I haven’t looked back.

20140621-223541-81341010.jpgWhen you fry bacon in a frying pan, it stays greasy — which I understand is appealing to some people, but not me. If you do it in the oven, the grease has a chance to drip off. By using a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet, you create room for the drippings to fall through, instead of pooling on top of the bacon. Cook it long enough, and you have perfectly crisp bacon.

Though this method takes a little longer, it is completely worth the wait.

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place a cooling rack on top of the parchment paper. If it doesn’t completely fit in the baking sheet, tilt it in. Place strips of bacon on the cooling rack.

Bake for 20 minutes, then turn bacon over using tongs. Bake for another 10 minutes, or until bacon is crisp all the way through.

Fluffy pancakes to kick off the weekend

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During the week, I rarely have the time to make the kind of breakfast I want. So, on the weekends, I usually take advantage of the time I have to whip up whatever strikes my fancy. Sometimes it’s a frittata, sometimes it’s an omelet, but it’s often pancakes. I really enjoy pancakes with fruit, and my go-to is nearly always blueberries. This recipe from The Joy of Cooking produces the perfect fluffy pancakes that other recipes I’ve tried just can’t produce. I like to top mine with marionberry syrup.

Next weekend I’ll be heading to Curtis Stone’s restaurant, Maude, in Beverly Hills for my birthday dinner. Though it will be a couple days before my birthday, I am so excited and have been looking forward to this for months. I’ll report back when I return!

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 3/4 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup blueberries
1/3 cup coconut

Combing flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside. Combine milk, butter, eggs, and vanilla in another bowl. Quickly mix the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix in blueberries and coconut.

Melt a pat of butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Put two tablespoons of batter in the pan for each pancake. Cook until the bubbles at the top of the pancakes have popped, then flip over and cook for a few more minutes, until both sides are golden brown. Serve hot, topped with syrup.

Hard-boiled eggs that turn out right every time

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It’s amazing how some easy kitchen tasks can turn out to be difficult. For a long time, I had a hard time hard-boiling an egg correctly. The yolks would either have that gray line around outside, or the egg wouldn’t be cooked all the way through. It was frustrating, and I tried a few different ways until I figured out what worked consistently for me.

Since it’s Easter, many people will likely be decorating eggs, so I thought this was an appropriate time for this post.

Put six eggs (or however many you want) in an empty pot. Fill the pot with cold water to about an inch above the eggs. Place the pot on a burner turned to high.

When the water starts to have a rolling boil — usually about 8-10 minutes — turn off the burner and immediately remove the pot from the heat. Let stand for a minute or two. Then, using a slotted spoon, remove the eggs and place them in a bowl. Let sit until completely cool.

That’s it. Really. Happy Easter.

Curious about quinoa

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This is what I had for breakfast this morning. I made quinoa once a long time ago for a cold salad. It was good, but I hadn’t seen any recipes since that made me want to revisit the grain, until this recipe arrived in my inbox a few weeks ago. I had forgotten about it until I went grocery shopping yesterday and saw quinoa on the shelf.

Now that I’m working normal daytime hours for the first time in a long time, I’m realizing that I really do need to eat breakfast. Skipping it and waiting for lunchtime leaves me lagging, especially since by that time I’ve already been awake for six or seven hours. So, I’ve been looking for things I can make quickly in the morning, just to get a good start to the day.

When I saw that this recipe was called porridge, I instantly pictured the soupy, unappetizing substance served in “Oliver Twist.” I don’t know why that’s the first thing that came to mind, but it was. This quinoa porridge turned out to be quite good, and was a satisfying start to the day. I added to the original recipe because I like more texture in my food.

Know that the amount of quinoa made below is more than you’ll need for one serving of this porridge. But, if you want to make it for more than one, or have quinoa to keep in the fridge for other dishes, make the full amount. If you do want to make just one serving, use 1/3 cup quinoa and 2/3 cup water.

Ingredients
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
2/3 cup almond milk
5 strawberries, hulled and chopped
1 tablespoon shredded raw coconut
2 tablespoons sliced almonds or whole pecans, toasted and chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons light agave nectar
Pinch of salt

Place quinoa in a pot and rinse and drain twice. Add 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until outer germ layer separates and grain appears translucent.

In another pot, combine 1/2 cup quinoa and 2/3 cup almond milk. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover pot, lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove lid and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, or until porridge is thick and creamy. Stir in strawberries, coconut, nuts, agave and salt. Serve warm.