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Cheesy Gruyere and Swiss Mini Quiche

 

I love eggs in the morning but sometimes I’m not in the mood to stand in front of the stove and cook them. To be honest sometimes I’m barely functioning in the morning, especially if I haven’t had my first cup of coffee. So, how excited am I at a recipe where I mix together a bunch of ingredients, throw it in the oven to cook and go about enjoying my coffee while I wait for breakfast? Ecstatic doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Ingredients:

– 5 eggs
– 1 1/2 cups of half and half  (substitute with whole milk for a healthier option)
– 1 tsp of salt
– 1 tbsp of freshly cracked black pepper
– 2 tbsp fresh thyme
– 3/4 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
– 3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese
– 3/4 cup of panko bread crumbs 

Instructions:
Pre heat oven to 375.

Beat the eggs together and add the half and half, salt, black pepper and 2 tbsp of thyme. Mix together and then add the Gruyère and Swiss cheese. In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining thyme with the panko bread crumbs. Using a ladle, pour the mixture into a greased muffin tin, filling up 3/4 of the way. The quiche will rise as they cook so leave some room for this. Cook for 10 minutes and then pull out the muffin tin to spoon the bread crumb mixture onto each quiche, about 1 tsp each. This will ensure the breadcrumbs stay on top and get crispy. If they are added in before the quiche goes into the oven they will sink into the mixture. Continue cooking for another 15 minutes until the top turns golden brown.

Allow the quiche to cool for about 10 minutes. Once they have cooled, run a butter knife along the edge of each quiche to loosen it up and pull it out.

Dress to impress tip – Grab some extra sprigs of fresh thyme while you’re at the store to use for a garnish. Place the extra sprigs in between the quiche to have bright pops of green.

French Toast with Candied Pecans

What do you love most about French toast? Is it that rich, creamy taste when you bite into it? Maybe that slight crunch from it being toasted on a griddle or in the oven? If its neither of those then it HAS to be the sweet taste of carmelized sugar. For me, it’s all of the above but I have a secret ingredient that throws it over the top. One that will make you sit back in wonder and think to yourself why haven’t I had this before?? It’s the candied pecans with a hint of coffee and yes, you CAN have dessert in the morning.

Ingredients:

– 1 loaf brioche bread

– 6 eggs

– 1 1/2 cups of half and half *substitute with whole milk for a healthier option

– 1 tbsp vanilla

– 4 tbsp freshly brewed coffee

– Pinch of salt

– 5 tbsp dark brown sugar

– 5 tbsp butter

– 3/4 cup roughly chopped pecans

– Powdered sugar for garnishing

Instructions:

In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, half and half, vanilla, 2 tbsp of coffee and a pinch of salt. Take the brioche bread and cut it into 3/4″ thick slices. Turn on the stove to medium and add 2 tbsp of butter to a non stick skillet. While this warms up, begin to dip the slices of bread in the batter 2 at a time. Make sure you flip the bread over to ensure that both sides are well coated. Place the coated bread slices on the skillet and cook on each side for about 3 minutes until golden brown. Continue dipping the bread in the batter and cooking on the skillet. Once all the bread slices have been cooked arrange them on a platter or a dish.

Melt the remaining 2 tbsp of butter coffee in the skillet. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of coffee, and the brown sugar and pecans. Cook until the mixture has the consistency of syrup and is dark brown. Pour this over the french toast. Garnish with powdered sugar that has been run through a sifter.

Dress to impress tip – use a cake platter to serve this. The height will make this stand out as a main dish and gives you the opportunity to be a little artistic with your presentation. My favorite way to serve this is to arrange the slices in a circle and drizzle the syrup/powdered sugar on top. You’ll be left with some room in the middle that you can also use to decorate the platter by adding things like fresh fruit or acorns, but I like to take make this a simple presentation where the focus is on the french toast itself.

Hostess with the mostess tip – if you’re serving this dish for a group of people you can save some time by baking this instead of individually cooking each slice. To do this, pre-heat your oven to 375. Arrange the dipped slices of bread in a greased baking dish and pour any remaining batter over the bread. Cook for 20 minutes, flipping the slices over halfway through. You’ll get the same taste and this will give you some extra time to focus on making all the other dishes for your spectacular morning brunch 😉

Breakfast Sausage Patties

Who doesn’t love sausages in the morning? They’re the perfect complement to a sweet breakfast dish (try pairing it with my french toast with candied pecans) or can be eaten in a breakfast sandwich. If you’re like me and never have enough time in the morning then make these ahead of time and freeze them. You can take them out one at a time to have for breakfast each morning. What better way is there to start your day?

Ingredients:

– 1 lb ground beef

– 1 egg

– 1 tbsp salt

– 1 tbsp chili powder

– 2 tbsp brown sugar

– 4 tbsp olive oil

– 1 shallot

 Instructions:
Finely dice the shallot. In a large mixing bowl combine the ground beef, egg, salt, chili powder, brown sugar, 1 tbsp olive oil and the shallot. Heat a non stick skillet with the remaining oil on medium heat. Take the beef mixture and make beef patties out of it, about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. These are breakfast sausages, so make sure you don’t end up with 1/2 lb burgers! Begin frying the patties with the remaining olive oil, cooking on each side for about 2-3 minutes until dark brown.* Arrange the patties on a white serving dish.
 *For a healthier version, you can bake the patties instead of frying them. To do this, pre-heat your oven to 375 and bake for 15 minutes.

Eggplant Parm

Eggplant parm is one of those hearty home cooked meals that makes my mouth water (as most foods do). I remember making this for the first time when I was 11 years old one summer. My recipe at that time was a lot simpler – I literally took the eggplant, sliced it and put it in a baking dish with sauce on the bottom, eggplant and then a layer of mozzarella cheese on top. That still tasted amazing and my mom actually let me make it again when we had family from out of town visiting for dinner. I took that as a true sign of success if my mom, the ultimate perfectionist when it came to cooking, let me make something for dinner. If you’re looking for a really short and easy way to make eggplant parm…go for it with my original recipe. I PROMISE it will still taste good – how can you go wrong when there is cheese involved?

My tastes since then have evolved and I’ve experimented a bit to get to this recipe. It’s the perfect mix of richness from the cheese, sweet tartness from the marinara and crunch from the eggplant and breadcrumbs on top. You know that feeling you get when you pull apart a cheesy slice of pizza that’s piping hot? That’s what this dish is like. Your mouth will water as you’re pulling apart a slice of it and you see the ooey gooey cheese with flecks of crispy breadcrumbs in it. I would recommend taking 2 slices of it at a time because there’s no guarantee there will be any left for you to come back to for seconds.

Ingredients:

1 medium sized eggplant

2 eggs

1 ¾ cup of panko bread crumbs

1 tsp of salt

1 tsp of black pepper

2 cups marinara sauce

2 cups mozzarella cheese

¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1 tbs olive oil or baking spray

1 tbs freshly chopped thyme (optional for garnishing at the end)

Instructions:

Pre heat oven to 375.

Season 1 ¼ cup of the panko bread crumbs with a pinch of salt and black pepper. Set aside in a plate that is large enough to accommodate the eggplant slices being rolled in the breadcrumbs. In a separate bowl, crack the eggs and beat. Make sure this bowl is also wide enough for the eggplant slices to be dipped in.

Slice the eggplant into round circles about 1/4” thick (no thicker then this or they will be difficult to cook). Take a slice of eggplant and dip it first in the eggs and then in the breadcrumbs, ensuring each side is covered with bread crumbs. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices and place on a cooling rack for baking. Once all the slices have been coated in the egg and breadcrumb mixtures, place the cooling rack on a baking sheet. Drizzle 1 tbs olive oil over the slices and sprinkle with 1 tsp of salt and black pepper.  Bake the slices for 15 minutes then remove from the oven.*

In a baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray, coat the bottom of the dish with marinara sauce. Place a layer of eggplant on the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle ½ cup of mozzarella on the eggplant and then continue with another layer of eggplant and cheese – you should get 2-3 layers depending on the size of the eggplant. Once you have completed layering the eggplant and cheese, put a final layer on top of the remaining mozzarella, parmesan and breadcrumbs. Drizzle with 1 tbs olive oil and place in the oven for 30 minutes.

*Placing the slices on a cooling rack to bake will allow the eggplant slices to get crispy. If you do not have a cooling rack, it’s ok – you can still get them crispy. Just put them on a baking sheet and turn them over halfway through so that each side gets toasted.