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I am quite proud of myself.  I’m slowly but surely becoming a leftover queen.  See, I’ve always aspired to be a leftover queen; to be like my mother who can make something delicious out of bits and pieces of previous meals.   Prior to arriving at my current status of queen-in-training, I was wallowing away in leftover boredom.  I was the from-the-fridge-to- the-microwave type.   I know… shocking that a queen-to-be could come from such humble beginnings.  But no longer!   This girl can  turn a lonely chicken thigh into a hearty fried rice with a little egg and roasted nori.  Overcooked leftover brown rice magically becomes porridge with almond butter and blueberries for a healthy breakfast treat.  And a lonely piece of Niman Ranch smoked bacon, dried out cornbread, and a smidge of leftover cream becomes something comforting and yet oh-so-divine.  Ladies and gentlemen, the leftover queen-in-training presents…

The baked egg  (mini tada!)

You can bake an egg (or 10, as I happened to do…), with just about anything else you have lying around.  In this case, I set my oven to 350° and buttered up a casserole dish, covered the bottom with cubed cornbread and some cream.  Then, I sliced the bacon into 1/2 in. pieces (or lardons, if you want to get all technical) and cooked them on low heat until they got nice and crispy.  Out came the bacon to drain and into the hot pan went some sliced shallots and mushrooms (with a little bacon fat left in… well, because… duh). Once the shallots and mushrooms were browned and caramelized, I added a bunch of spinach to wilt in the pan and seasoned to taste.  This mixture was spooned evenly over the cornbread.   Then the eggs were carefully set atop the layers of cornbread and vegetables.  Finally, another few splashes of  cream atop the eggs (this helps keep the whites from drying out), a sprinkling of fresh thyme and freshly grated nutmeg and in to the oven it went for approximately 12-15 minutes.  Top with any additional herbs you fancy (I had chives so I used those).

Keep an eye on the eggs to make sure they don’t overcook.  As you can probably tell from my photo up top, my yolks were slightly overdone for my tastes.  Yeah, I’m a runny yolk kinda girl.  Adjust the cooking time to suit your yolk personality!

Baked eggs can be made with almost anything (and can be made more waistline friendly than this particular one).  Bread, no bread.  Tortillas? Rice? For sure!  Layer with tomato sauce, pesto, cheeses, leftover sausage or other meats, beans,… oh, the possibilities.  I’ve been on a tortilla and chipotles in adobo kick as of late.  I’m thinking my next version will have a little Mexican flare.  Or maybe Japanese inspired rice casserole of sorts topped with eggs, umeboshi plums, and furikake?  Yum?

What’s your favorite leftover mashup?  And more importantly, how do you like your eggs?

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Banana bread was my gateway drug into baking. In high school, I became mildly obsessed with making good, moist banana bread. Sometimes, I even tried to be healthy about it and use whole wheat flour and minimize the fat content (clearly, I was slightly crazy). For me at least, it was pretty idiot-proof baking and gave me confidence to try other things, like pumpkin pie, cookies, raspberry cream-cheese brownies, pumpkin cheesecake, simple as they may have been for veteran bakers. During college and beyond, baking fell by the wayside, being only a mild obsession after all. I only broke out the flour and sugar when Thanksgiving rolled around. And even when one birthday, my amazing friends pooled their money and splurged on an orange KitchenAid mixer for me (!!!), I still didn’t bake as regularly as I would have liked.

Banana bread in a buttered and floured pan before it goes in the oven

But recently, a surge in quickly browning bananas has spurred me to try baking again. I haven’t shipped my mixer over from the East Coast yet, but one of the great things about banana bread is that you really don’t need one. The basic ingredients in any banana bread recipe are generally pretty cheap, which, being poor, makes it the ideal baked good to make. I’m pretty terrible about holding onto recipes (both ones I like and ones I want to try), but I’ve been trying harder to keep a firm grasp on them. After a little hunting around, I happened upon this one from one of my new bosses. It worked perfectly, although I left out the candied ginger which I didn’t have lying around and added a ½ cup more of the walnuts because, hey, I like nuts in every bite, don’t you? It was also a wonderful Valentine’s Day present for my mother, who used to be the happy consumer of my banana bread experiments back in high school.

Ta-da! Oven magic!