banana · bread · breakfast · brunch · brunch ideas · burger · burger patty · french toast · fresh bread · ripe bananas · stuffed

Fresh Bread Smells and Stuffed Food Smiles

fullsizerender-21This weekend I spent some time remembering the smell  of fresh bread walking down the streets of Paris. Since lately I’ve been on this kick of eliminating artificial preservatives I decided to do some research and make my own bread at home, bring the smell of Parisian bakeries to my home. So, I started with one goal in mind, dinner. Ever since last summer, I’ve wanted to try to duplicate the a delicious pork burger I tried at Yard House while visiting Southern California. So I decided to take this pork deliciousness to another level and make some brioche buns for it.

I found a recipe on The New York Times Cooking page. The recipe makes 6-8 buns so since I was only cooking for two I ended up making my own brioche loaf with oats and flax seeds on the side. The outcome? Two beautiful golden brown buns and a delicious loaf of bread with pretty hues of gold and oat shimmer.

I utilized my fresh bread in two different ways: for dinner and brunch the next day. It has been a while that I’ve wanted to make bread so I’m super excited that I got over my fear of yeast and can make it now whenever I want. Note: The only challenge with making bread is time. The amount of time the dough needs to rest is what may discourage, but believe me when I tell you that it is worth it!

img_5467My version of the burger from Yard House: A fresh brioche bun burger with a pork patty stuffed with mozzarella cheese, blueberry ketchup, non spicy candied bacon and spinach.  I think I liked my version much better. Perhaps it was the fresh bun or the pork burger patty that I stuffed with mozzarella cheese; all I know is that I am adding this one to my must-have burgers this summer.

The next day I was looking for something to satisfy my sweet tooth. There were two things I absolutely needed to use, 2 ripe bananas that have been begging me to use them before they go back and my fresh loaf of bread. I’ve probably never mentioned this, but even though my boyfriend loves everything I make, there is one thing that he’s never liked and that is my french toast. Now, maybe it’s because I enjoy a good challenge or perhaps my competitive nature kicked in, but today would be the day to make him change his mind. Honestly, the thought of my french toast not satisfying anyone has bugged me for years!

My strategy going in was to use the loaf of bread (you can’t deny the power of homemade), stuff it with a banana and maple syrup mix (2 ripe bananas and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup), and revamp my egg mixture. img_5466I replaced my old egg mix with this: 2 Eggs, 1/4 tsp cinnamon and sugar, a splash of almond milk ( which I made a couple of days ago), a pinch of nutmeg, 1 tsp of vanilla-bourbon extract and a splash of heavy cream. First I cut slices of the loaf of bread, about 1 inch. Then I cut down the middle to create pockets for the mashed bananas/maple syrup mixture. Once I stuffed the bread slices, I dipped in my new and improved egg mix. I buttered a pan and cooked in medium heat for about 5-8 minutes making sure each side is evenly cooked.

Once done I sprinkled with some powdered sugar, fresh blueberries and maple syrup. img_5463-1

These were absolutely delicious and just in case you’re wondering I wasn’t the only one to think so. Yup! after all these years, the french toast redeemed themselves! Ah, the sweet smell of victory is almost as good as the sweet smell of fresh bread. Or is it?

berries · breakfast · coffee · food · french toast · healthy · lemon · lemon zest · pancakes · with coffee

Berry Preserves Found Their Way to My Heart

img_5356One of my favorite mornings rituals on the weekend is to wake up, stumble to the kitchen with my eyes barely open and get the coffee machine going. Ahh, I love my coffee. It is the one thing I look forward to every morning and sometimes I even start to look forward to it before I go to bed the night before. The darker the better. The hotter the more enjoyable. Recently, I got into the (good) habit of making my own berries preserves to enjoy with my toast and of course coffee. I used to buy my preserves, but one day after scooping out the last bit of preserves left in the container I decided to try and make my own. Oh, heavenly was the day I realized how easy and delicious this was! Now, I make a small batch which lasts me about 2-3 weeks. Here’s how to make this magic happen:

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup of Blueberries/Raspberries (I’ve used both fresh and frozen)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of brown sugar (you can use regular sugar as well)
  • a splash of lemon juice and water and a bit of lemon zest

fullsizerender-20In a small pan cook down the berries with about 1 tablespoon of water over medium heat until they are soft and you can break them down. I use a wooden spoon to pop the blueberries as they soften. It will take a few minutes for the berries to break down. Add the sugar, lemon juice, zest and combine together. Let everything cook down until you see that jam consistency. Make sure you taste it. Sometimes I’m in the mood for more sweet while others I look for a more lemony taste. Total cooking time is about 5-8 minutes. Pour over a small container and place in the freezer for about a minute or two to cool.

In the mean time get that toast ready, by the time your freshly made berries preserves have cooled they will be ready to slather over your toast and to enjoy with that perfectly made cup of coffee. These also make a great topping for pancakes of french toast or even pie fillings! The possibilities are endless, all it takes is a little creative moment to completely change your life and a few berries to have a change of heart.





bacon · breakfast · brunch · brunch ideas · bun · California · concert · creative dishes · dinner · dreams · eggs · foodithinkiloveyou · green onions · hotdogs · jam · lunch · meal ideas · sausage party · wine

The Breakfast Hot Dog of My Dreams

If you’ve ever been to a concert or sporting event (at least in California), you’ve enjoyed a bacon wrapped hot dog afterwards as you’re walking to your car. Right? If you haven’t, make a mental note and next time you see the small stand with the guy grilling bacon wrapped hot dogs, stop and have one (or four!). You will not regret it, I promise. 
Just a few weeks ago at a family gathering, they made bacon wrapped hot dogs. I was so excited because I absolutely love these and yes, maybe I was salivating a just little. I guess you had to be there. The buns slathered with sour cream (stay with me), ketchup over the crunchy bacon wrapped hot dog, chopped tomatoes and white onions on top with one more small dollop of sour cream (Mmmm). In my opinion there is no need for mustard or anything else. These ingredients together are absolute perfection. My mind, much like my hot dog, was wrapped up in deep thought as I was savoring each bite. I couldn’t focus on the chatter around me. Right there and then I had an amazing idea, breakfast hot dogs?? [angels singing]. How can I make a hot dog that will produce a breakfast party in my mouth with one single bite? Was it possible?? Yes!

This week my taste buds attended that breakfast party and the feedback was: success. I had so much fun putting this meal together, although the wine could have played a part, but it was mostly the cooking. I used chicken hot dogs, wrapped in bacon and cooked in a pan until the bacon was mostly cooked. Then I popped in the oven (325 degrees) until the bacon was nice and crispy. I used multigrain buns, which I also popped in the oven until they were warm and had slightly crispy edges. The over easy egg is probably the most important component of this dish because you want that yolk to be runny so when it pops it spreads all over the hot dog and in between the bacon (YUM!). I slathered some sour cream once the buns were done, snuggled the hot dog inside, positioned the egg on top, popped the yolk and chopped some green onions. I added some raspberry-habanero jam to give it that slight sweetness you get from a well rounded breakfast bite and it was delicious. Great for breakfast, brunch or even lunch and dinner if you’re like me and can have breakfast at anytime!
blueberry · breakfast · coffee · creativity · experience · hungry · lemon · lemon zest · muffins · prince charming · recipe · snack · tea

Looking for My Lemon-Blueberry Prince Muffin

If you like to bake you know there is something very therapeutic about it. Maybe it’s the focus on the ingredients and process so the outcome can be as delicious as you expect or the mere presence of flour and butter is comforting enough. Whatever the reason, this week I made some lemon-blueberry muffins. My very first attempt. I did replaced some ingredients with what I had at hand, but I had plenty of blueberries so no matter what, this was happening. I went for it because I have a few ideas for the tops of these that I’m excited to try like sprinkling those huge sugar crystals on top, a crumble and  dipping them in a lemon glaze with shaved almonds on top, but I wanted to first start perfecting this recipe. Though these came out pretty tasty (yes, they’re all gone now), I wanted my muffins to come bursting out of the pan cup like it was reaching for the oven sky! This batch must have been the non-flying sidekick muffin because even though they were good, they didn’t have the defined muffin muscles I was hoping to see coming out of the oven. These are perfect however for a small, late morning snack with coffee or in the evening with tea. It’s not the kind of muffin that you can grab to-go in the morning and have for breakfast because you will (I repeat), you will start to feel hangry by 10AM. 

I know a lot of recipes call for sour cream or buttermilk, but I didn’t have that at hand when my sudden need for baking happened. So, I used I made my own recipe and improvised using: 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of cane sugar, 2 tsp of baking powder, 1/4 tsp of salt, 2 eggs, 1 egg white, 2 tsp of vanilla extract, 8 tsp of unsalted butter, 1/2 cup of almond milk, 1/2 tsp of lemon zest, 1 cup of blueberries and some brown sugar to sprinkle on top of the batter right before placing them in the oven set for 375 degrees. 

I first combined the flour, salt and baking soda together and set aside. I then mixed the cane sugar, butter, vanilla extract and eggs all together. After a good mix, I combined the egg white, salt and lemon zest. One thing I do is taste the batter throughout the process so I get it the way I like it. Lemon zest can make or break the flavor you’re going for so it’s important to constantly know how the flavor of the batter is coming together. I wanted my muffins to have a hint of lemon, but wanted the blueberries to be mostly front and center. I think next time I make these I’m going to add more blueberries, maybe about 1/2 cup more so that they are more prominent in every bit. The lemon zest amount was perfect.

Once the batter is done, I mixed in the blueberries using a rubber spatula. Remember to dry the blueberries before tossing in the batter otherwise they will sink to the bottom. The consistency should be heavier than cake batter. Fill the cupcakes to the top so the muffins can fully rise and sprinkle a bit of brown sugar before putting them in the oven. I think I left too much space for this rise and ended up not getting my super hero muffin this time around. It’s ok, I guess perfecting a recipe is like finding true love right? You have to eat a lot of muffins before you find the perfect prince muffin.

Enjoy that journey- it sounds delicious!

almonds · baker · baking needs · biscotti · breakfast · catering · cheese · crust · culinary · friday · goodies · mushrooms · quiche · spinach

Sweet or Savory: Which holds the key to your heart?

It was a pleasure  to try some goodies from a follower who has a great culinary future ahead of her! Our friend Giorgia from Baking by Giorgia was kind enough to share her baking with my friends and I yesterday. I mean, can you think of a better way to kick off the weekend? Thanks GG!
She made for us a breakfast quiche and almond biscotti, mmm. It was the perfect combination of sweet and savory on a Friday morning. 
My favorite of the two was the biscotti, but then again I’m bias because of two reasons: 1. I love, love, love a sweet morning pastry with my coffee and 2. I am a huge biscotti fan. That reminds me, after having made some orange-cranberry biscotti 2 weeks ago, I got a call requesting a batch for a dinner party tomorrow. So, you may see some more biscotti pictures coming your way (again you ask? yes, but you know you love it so really I’m doing this for you!). 
I’ll start off by sharing with you my experience with home-made quiche. I really loved the crust, it was a buttery-crunch delight that carried the bold and savory ingredients from the quiche very well. I appreciated that I could actually see the ingredients in my every bite. Seriously, I’ve had quiche where the ingredients are so broken down that I spend half of my meal time trying to poke at the food hoping it will tell me what it is. Like “Hey, you little piece of green-something, what are you? hey, can you hear me? speak already!” I can tell you that I saw and tasted the spinach, sausage, onions and mushrooms without having to wonder what I was eating. I like chunks of goodness surprising me while I eat. Personally, I tend to like a lot of cheese on everything. The more cheese the better. In a quiche the more cheese it has the… tighter it is? I guess I feel like it really holds on to everything else and it’s less eggy. So really that is my only critique. Overall I really enjoyed it. As you can see in the picture I had myself two little pieces. No really, they were small. I needed to save room to have the biscotti for dessert after my breakfast quiche of course. Yeah…my fat kid had a field day for sure!

The biscotti was almond and vanilla dipped in chocolate. It was so good I had a big piece. Okay, I had three of them, but not at the same time! I made sure I spread them out throughout the day. Yum! (hashtagnoregrets hastagyolo) Anyway, as I was saying, the biscotti was amazing. It was the perfect color, crunch and amount of chocolate. I wished the almonds on the chocolate were smaller chunks or even toasted sliced almonds, but what do you know I ate them either way. The best part was dipping it in my coffee and letting all the flavors melt in my mouth. I mean really? Can you think of a better way to start the day?
I recommend you check out Giorgia’s culinary creations by visiting her website or Facebook page. Mmmm, enjoy! Oh, and let us know if it was love at first bite!
addicted · berries · breakfast · brunch · challah · french toast · fruit · fun meal · lost bread · maple syrup · pain perdu

French Toast, You Complete Me

My favorite meal is definitely breakfast. Maybe it’s because I don’t usually have it as it ought to be during the week or maybe because I have the option to choose between a savory or sweet meal. Regardless, when the weekend comes I look forward to our time together.

When I do crave a sweet breakfast I tend to go with something that also has fruit. One of the most satisfying and most drool-generating options is French Toast with berries. Not only is it super easy, but you can play around with it and add all kind of fun things like papaya, strawberries, bananas, coconut flakes (that combo has been tried and it’s amazing!) blueberries, raspberries and strawberries with some powdered sugar (pictured), chocolate chips and strawberries, dulce de leche instead of maple syrup, etc. Have fun with it! Another interesting way to change up your version is by using different types of bread. I personally love Challah bread because it’s soft and my toast ends up slightly crispy on the outside but super moist on the inside. Optional: serving it with a side of bacon or your favorite kind of sausage will add that salty flavor in case you crave it after a few bits of sweetness and it will balance the flavors in a way your taste buds will love you for!

What I use to make this delight:

  • Challah bread
  • Eggs- mixed (just enough to dip your bread)
  • Vanilla-bourbon extract (I find this a Trader Joe’s and add 1 tsp it to my egg mixture)
  • Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries
  • Powdered sugar (also called confectioner’s sugar)
  • Organic Grade A Maple syrup (never ruin your meal with dangerous-sugar-filled tables syrups)
  • A cup of hot coffee (oh wait! that’s just me envisioning my weekend morning…aah. While this is optional, it is totally recommended!).

breakfast · brunch · healthy · quick meal · sandwich

Vegetarian Brunch Date Sandwich

There is really something very special about a meal that happens between breakfast and lunch. It’s the perfect middle for those of us who love to sleep in, but absolutely love breakfast. It’s happened so many times that I wake up too late to make it to the good restaurants with the breakfasts and brunch you don’t want to miss. Most places stop serving their early wonders by 2 P.M. I have never understood why…after all it’s the weekend! Are we not entitled to sleep in AND have a good meal too? Must I be forced to a lunch menu and miss out on my coffee and eggs?! I say NEVER.
That’s why I came up with a perfect quick fix.After all, why rush out of the house when you know you will be that first to hear those words you dread to hear, “We’re sorry, just are no longer serving breakfast.”  (Ahhhhh!)

First thing is to prepare the egg just right. I prepared mine over-easy because I love to place the top bread down and the deliciously warm, yolk will ooze all over and create the sauce type consistency that ties together the flavors in every bite. For those of you who don’t like the yolk as much I (apparently) do I’m sure it will still taste good if you fry your eggs. I used a slice of american cheese and let it melt over my eggs, then I toast some honey wheat bread to add some sweetness to my sandwich. I slice some tomatoes, crack some black pepper over top it with some greens and Voila!
If you are a meat eater I would recommend using a slice of turkey or chicken, cook the slice over  pan until it’s warm and place over the cheese so it can all stick together nicely. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.