Bunnies Don’t Lay Eggs: Easter Egg Breakfast Cups

baked egg cups prosciutto

Oozy Egg Cups

It’s Easter weekend…And, there’s a new pope. So, it’s like a totally important Easter weekend.

raising rabbits easter brunch bunnies

Thumper – The Mother To Be

One thing about Easter that always confused me is the mystical Easter Bunny who brought eggs to us on Easter morning. I mean, rabbits don’t lay eggs. I’m certain of this because growing up we had bunnies…lots of bunnies. It started with Snuggles and then we added Thumper. The guy that sold us the bunnies assured us that both Snuggles and Thumper were males…and, we naively believed him.

But soon we had many mini Snuggles and Thumpers living in the rabbit hutch in our back yard. That’s right, Snuggles may have been male but Thumper was definitely female and the proud bunny mama to many little bunny pups.

We were young when we the bunny breeding began and watching the miracle of life in our own back yard was pretty cool. At first, we didn’t know what was going on…Thumper was lethargic and seemed to be gaining weight. ‘He’ spent a lot of time in the covered part of the hutch and didn’t want to be held. Meanwhile, Snuggles hopped around all boasty and proud…The, one day when we went out to feed the rabbits we noticed four tiny bald bunnies peeking out from under Thumper’s fur. What? The light went on: Thumper was a lady rabbit and now the mother of four.

Like I said, we were young. We had heard about rabbits reproducing like, well, rabbits. But didn’t really know exactly how that all happened. One thing was certain, however, these bunnies were definitely not hatched from eggs.

So, I don’t really get the Easter Bunny who brings Easter Eggs. I’m sure I could Google the origin of this magical egg-bearing rabbit – but, I’m not going to ruin the mystery.

In addition to the Easter Bunny and silly flowered bonnets, Brunch is synonymous with a traditional Easter celebration.

If your brunch guests are multiplying like rabbits you’ll want to serve an easy yet impressive and traditional meal.  Serving rabbit at Easter Brunch just seems wrong. But eggs, now that’s a different story.

Individual Easter Egg Cups (serves 6 if this is all you’re serving, but most likely there will be an Erik Estrada aka Egg Strada, a fruit salad, a frittata and maybe even a ham)

Tips for tiny apartments of any size:

  1. Buy extra slices of prosciutto; you will inevitably tear one or two during the prep and you may even want to snack on a slice or two
  2. Use your cup cake tin…not your Texas tin – if you’re lucky enough to have room in your tiny kitchen for both
  3. Temperate (bring to room temperature) your ingredients…everything works better this way

Ingredients (why am I moved to start saying ‘ingredientses’ like Teresa Giudice – pronounced this season as Ju-DEE-chAY)

  • 12 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 10oz package Birdseye frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 Cloves Garlic minced
  • 1/2 Shallot diced
  • 3 TBSP of heavy cream at room temperature
  • 14 slices of prosciutto – sliced thin
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

1. In a microwave safe bowl, defrost the spinach – remove from packaging, place in bowl and microwave for 6-7 minutes, stirring about halfway through

birdseye frozen chopped spinach

Thawed and Smokin’

2. Squeeze the excess water from the defrosted spinach. Wrap the spinach in a kitchen towel and squeeze the water out. Don’t worry about staining the towel. Spinach is organic and the green residue on the dish towel will wash out. Best to rinse the towel immediately following the squeezification and then throw it in the wash.

birdseye chopped frozen spinach

Post squeezification

3. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat heat two tablespoons of Olive Oil

4. Throw in the minced garlic and diced shallot and saute until fragrant – about 2 mins

fresh garlic saute

Saute Til Fragrant

5. Add the spinach and stir to combine

6. Heat through – about :02 mins

7. Turn the heat down and pour in the heavy cream. Stir to combine

cream spinach birdseye frozen chopped egg cup bake

Creamy Goodness

8. Take one piece of prosciutto and line each cup of a 12-cup cupcake tin. Don’t worry if the pieces tear a little…just make sure the sides and bottom of each cup are covered with the salty meat

prosciutto egg cups brunch recipe

Line with prosciutto

9. Layer on a tablespoon of the cream spinach to the prosciutto

Cream spinach egg cups easter brunch

Layer in the Creamy Spinach

10. Crack one egg on top of each prosciutto – spinach cup

easter egg cups for brunch prosciutto food

I crack the eggs into ramekins and then pour into each cup cake well

11. Bake in the oven for :15 mins – until the eggs are set, but yolks are still runny. You may want to turn the pan halfway through the cooking process so that all eggs are uniformly baked. But, then again, you may have runny egg eaters and more done egg eaters. Your call.

12. Using a large spoon, gently lift each Easter Egg Cup out of the tin and transfer to a serving plate.

Easter Egg cup recipe brunch

Easter Egg Cup Service

13. Serve. If perfectly prepared, the yolks will be runny and delicious and the prosciutto will be somewhat crispy and hold its cup shape.

Easter egg bake spinach prosciutto recipe

Perfectly runny baked egg

Bunnies don’t lay eggs. And, the Egg-Toting Easter Bunny is still a mystery to me. All I know is that if a bunny breeder promises you the two rabbits he’s selling are male – it’s probably a lie. And that these Easter Egg Breakfast Cups are an easy way to impress your Easter Brunch guests.

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Appropriately Sized and Served on the Side: Lil’ Savory Cheddar Dill Scones

ina garten cheddar dill scones

Savory Smaller Cheddar Dill Scones

One of the things that drives me most crazy is the size of portions at restaurants. And, I’m not just talking about at The Cheesecake Factory. I’m not averse to the giant drinks at the bar there – but, that’s a different story.

The other night I was out to dinner at one of my fave Mexican restaurants in the West Village. I ordered the Baja (read ‘fried’) fish tacos. In a totally wrong way in my head, ordering the fish tacos vs the chicken chimichangas, would be ‘better’ for me. I realize that’s wrong.

mole fish taco

Giant Portion

When the tacos arrived, the plate – probably 10 inches in diameter – was completely covered. It was literally a portion that could serve a family of four if Melissa D’Arabian had anything to say about it. Seriously, there were no fewer than 8 big pieces of Baja fried fish smothered in tomatoes, onions, cilantro, topped with avocado slices and sitting atop 7, yes 7, soft tacos. Ridiculous. Delicious, but ridiculous.

It’s just too much. I mean, does the restaurant think that food for four should be served to just one? And, are they promoting eating that much just by serving it? Does the restaurant have a responsibility for controlling the portions they serve? I think so. And….Don’t get me started on giant sodas, because, sorry, I agree with the mayor here.

In a city where space is at a premium – and our kitchens are tiny – the giant restaurant portions amaze me.

sur la table nyc

It’s like crack for a cook

My niece and nephew sent me a gift certificate to Sur La Table for Christmas. Whenever I shop for kitchen stuff, I have to take into account my tiny kitchen. I have to make choices – I want, but don’t need, another 6qt Le Creuset pot, another All-Clad grill pan, 7 more spatulas, the pasta attachment to my KitchenAid mixer, more wine glasses etc etc etc, ….And, I sort of do want a Scone cutter….But, where would I put any of these things?

Bottom line, is there isn’t room. And, a scone cutter, cuts out big scones. As the boss of my test kitchen, I have a responsibility to serve reasonably sized portions. So instead of a scone cutter, I bought a set of biscuit cutters. Better choice for a few reasons:

  1. They nest like Russian Dolls – one inside the other
  2. You get 5 sizes, not just one – more versatile
  3. They’re a lot smaller than a single scone cutter – controlling your portions and saving you space
  4. They come with a ring that connects them to one another – don’t throw out the ring as it will help you keep them organized in your tiny kitchen

I’m a savory, not a sweet eater. I heart savory scones – rarely a breakfast entree like their sugary cousins, but rather a side dish, an accoutrement to the main course. So, why should we make giant ones?

Lil’ Savory Cheddar Dill Scones (makes 24 baby scones)

Ingredients

  • scones recipe ina garten

    Scone Mise En Place

    2 Cups + 1TBSP Gold Medal all purpose flour

  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1 TSP Salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 TBSP) unsalted COLD butter, diced – dice the butter, then put it in the freezer for :10mins
  • 2 large eggs + 1 egg for egg wash
  • 1/2 Cup heavy cream chilled – measure out the cream and then put it back in the fridge until you’re ready to add it
  • 1/4lb extra-sharp Irish Cheddar cheese – small dice
  • 1/2 Cup minced fresh Dill

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

1. In the bowl of a KitchenAid mixer, combine 2 Cups of flour, the baking powder and salt

kitchenAid mixer scones

Use the Paddle Attachment – and just mix :05

2. Add the cold butter dices and mix on low until the butter is in pea sized pieces

3. In a separate bowl (or, I used a water glass, whatever works) mix together the eggs and heavy cream

4. Add the creamy-egg mix to the buttery flour mix and combine until just blended and a dough forms

cheddar dill scones

Don’t Over Mix!

5. In a separate bowl, toss the dill and cheddar dices with 1 TBSP of flour just to coat

cheddar dill scones

Tossed with Flour

6. Add the coated cheddar and dill to the dough and mix to combine

cheddar dill scones recipe

Mix for just :05 seconds

7. Put the dough on a well-floured surface and knead for about a minute to get all of the cheddar dices and dill-iness well incorporated

8. Roll out the dough to about 1/4-1/2 inch thick – if you were making a traditional scone, you might want them thicker…but again, too much food!

cheddar dill scones

Don’t roll too thin…

9. Using the two inch biscuit cutter I just got from Sur La Table – cut into circles

sur la table biscuit cutters

Space Saving Nesting Biscuit Cutters

10. Place the savory scone circles onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with Reynold’s Wrap Pan Lining Paper and brush them with egg wash (1 egg whisked with 1 TBSP water)

cheddar dill scones

Oven Ready Lil’ Scones

11. Into the oven for :16-:18 mins if you used the 2 inch biscuit cutter, :20 – :25 mins if you used a traditional scone cutter. Just watch the scones – when the outside is browned and crusty and the inside is fully baked, they’re done

scones ina garten recipe

Lil’ Cheddar Dill Scones

These scones are good. Like really good. And, my tiny apartment still smells a little like butter from the baking process. They are in no way low-cal….But, rather a more responsible way to give my guests a little savory delicious indulgence appropriately sized and served on the side.

New Year’s Resolution – Finish What You Start: Bleu Cheese Mashed and Potato Pancakes

whole foods yukon gold potatoes

Light Fluffy and Bleu Cheesy

Some people have a hard time finishing things. I, myself, have added ‘finish the books I start’ to my list of New Year’s Resolutions. It just happens – maybe you grew bored of the thing you’ve started or maybe you think it’s taking too long to get to the good parts of 50 Shades of Grey – whatever the reason, certain tasks just aren’t completed.

It’s hard to believe that this could happen with something as delectable as mashed potatoes. But it does. You made too much of the stuff. You didn’t know that some of your dinner guests are strict carnivores or veggie-free. They don’t eat side dishes. They didn’t show. Or, God forbid, they just don’t like potatoes!

Regardless of how it happened, you might find yourself left with a bowlful of cold, rapidly aging mashed potatoes in your fridge following such a party.

If you’re like most Americans…You’ve probably had a mashed potato or two in the past four weeks. One way to avoid having leftover mashed potatoes is to doctor them up a bit – make something unexpected out of the expected.

Bleu Cheese Mashed Potatoes (Serves 8)

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes – washed and quartered…no need to peel
  • 1/2 Cup of Breakstone’s Sour Cream at room temperature
  • 1/2 Cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 6 TBSP of butter
  • 8 oz of crumbled bleu cheese
  • Salt and Pepper

1. Place the potatoes in a large stock pot and cover with water – enough water so that the water is at least two inches higher than the potatoes

Note: If, like most of us…You want to get ahead and cut the potatoes early…Just keep them in a large stock pot covered with ice water – this will keep them from turning an icky brown color

2. Bring the pot of potato filled water to a boil

Whole Foods yukon Gold potatoes

Bringing to a boil

3. Reduce to a simmer and cook until potatoes are fork tender – about 15 minutes

4. In a separate saucepan, heat the cream and butter

bleu cheese mashed potatoes

Heating the Cream and Butter

5. Drain the potatoes and then place them back into the still hot stock pot. This helps to steam the extra water out of the potatoes so you don’t get watery mashed potatoes

6. Using a masher, ricer or fork, mash the potatoes to your own desired consistency – I like ’em pretty smooth

Williams-Sonoma Potato Masher

This one’s from WS

Potato Ricer

From Wolfgang Puck

7. While mashing, ricing or forking, add the warmed milk/butter and whip in

8. Add in the sour cream and bleu cheese and mix until well combined

9. Add salt and pepper to taste

10. Serve immediately OR (thank you, Rachael Ray) you can put the mashed bleu cheese potato mixture in a separate bowl, cover and place over a bowl of simmering water on the stove top and keep warm for up to an hour or more. Shut the front door!

Now….In spite of how fab and different this potato dish was…it’s the next day and your lame non-mashed potato eating friends couldn’t finish this tasty side dish. Sure, you could toss the extra mashed potatoes…But in the spirit of the New Year and finishing what you start…Get creative and make…

Potato Pancakes (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • Whatever left over mashed potatoes you have, but at least 2 1/2 cups with ratio of other ingredients below
  • 1/3 Cup of Breakstone’s Sour Cream
  • 1/4 Cup of Bisquick Baking Mix
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 TSP of sugar – you can leave this out, but it really helps to crisp up the edges of the pancakes
  • Butter for frying

1. Bring the mashed potatoes, Sour Cream and egg to room temperature

2. To the bowl of leftover mashed potatoes, add the sour cream, egg, sugar and Bisquick and mix to well combined.

bleu cheese potato pancakes

Just eyeball the ingredient amounts

NOTE: eyeball the consistency – you want it somewhat thick – not as thin as pancakes. Depending upon how much of the mashed potatoes you have left over, you may need to add a little more baking mix or another egg.

mashed potato left over pancakes

Not totally smooth, you want to taste the potatoes

3. Heat the butter in a large skillet over med/high heat – you can use vegetable oil/canola oil as well…just not olive oil

4. Drop pancake-y sized dollops of the mixture into the hot skillet and fry until lightly golden brown on one side

bleu cheese mash left over

Browning side one

5. Flip the pancakes and fry the second side

mash potato pancakes

See the crispy edges…that’s the sugar at work

6. Serve warm as a fab day two side dish….Or for breakfast – but, I wouldn’t put syrup on these…Just a little butter, maybe a chive or two would be great.

Some things prove harder to finish than others. But, you can get creative. For me, maybe that means finishing the books I start by watching the movie. Don’t judge, the end result is the same. To finish off your mashed potatoes, try whipping up a day two side dish of potato pancakes.

Magic Pancakes: Made With Love

pancake bisquick breakfast

Picture Perfect Pancake

When for a brief time I lived outside of the city, there was a chicken dish I made all the time – very simple, easy and because I could use the frozen Perdue chicken breasts…always available in my freezer. I referred to this very basic but delicious dish simply as ‘The Chicken’. Like ‘Hey, what’d you have for dinner last night?’…’The Chicken’.

Someone once asked me why when I made ‘The chicken’ it tasted so much better than when he made ‘The Chicken’. And, I always told him the same thing: because I make it with love.

Cooking isn’t as simple as just following the directions. I’m not saying it’s hard. I am saying that you can always taste the difference when something is made by someone who loved making it or loved the idea of eating it.

The ‘Love Ingredient’ may not always be tangible but it is always detectable. Love heats the bread in the bread basket. Love makes the perfectly runny poached egg. Love cares enough to whip up real whipped cream.

And, sometimes, the love is in the extra ingredients and care in creation. When it comes to pancakes, I like them crispy, fluffy, light and creamy. Hard to achieve this using just a simple mix…Or, God Forbid – a prefab batter…

So, I do a little love doctoring to make them magic, to create the ideal pancake. Not a lot of work…just a little bit of love.

Magic Pancakes: Made with Love (Serves 2 – 4)

Ingredients:

Perfect Pancakes

Magic Pancakes: Mise En Place

  • 1 Cup Bisquick Baking Mix
  • 1/2 Cup milk – Yes, skim or 2% or whole milk are all fine.
  • 1 TSP Sugar (Crispy Love Creator)
  • 1/3 Cup Sour Cream (Creamy Love Creator)
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 1 Egg White – Whipped to stiff peaks (Fluffy Love Creator)
  • Grade A Pure Maple Syrup
  • Butter

1. In a mixing bowl, combine the Bisquick, Milk, Egg Yolk, Sour Cream and Sugar with a whisk

light and fluffy crispy pancakes

Pancake Batter To Be Combined

cuisinart hand held mixer silver

Magic Mixer

2. In a separate bowl, whip the egg white to stiff peaks. Love separates the egg and whips the egg whites. You can do this by hand…but, it’s a little more love than you might have. I like to use my Cuisinart hand mixer.

3. Fold the whipped egg white into the Bisquick/Milk/Egg/Sour Cream/Sugar batter. Fold it in carefully so as to not deflate the fluffiness

light and fluffy pancakes

Don’t Over Mix!

4. Heat a skillet over medium and melt a just enough butter to ensure the pancake won’t stick. But, you don’t want a visible layer of butter.

5. Pour the batter into the heated skillet in 3 inch circles…Or, into a Mickey Mouse mold or freehand the shape of a car

walt disney world pancake mold

Pancake Fun Shape

bisquick pancakes

Freehand Pancake

6. Cook until the edges are dry and bubbles start to form on the top then flip

mickey mouse pancakes

Mousy-Cake

7. Cook another :30 seconds. Once the pancake fluffs up and is dry on the edges, it’s ready

8. Serve a stack with heated syrup and a little more butter. Love uses real maple syrup and heats it up.

pancakes light fluffy crispy

Heated Syrup and Just a little butter make it better…

With Christmas just around the corner, you may be having guests of all ages who would enjoy a carefully prepared pancake. Here’s just one way to show them you care: Make your pancakes with a little love.

Grocery Store Sins And A Frittata For Two

Breakfast Frittata for Two

Forgive me, follower(s), for I have sinned. I went to the grocery store today hungry. Very hungry. Like right out of the gym, no breakfast hungry. Always a bad idea.

What happens when I go to the store hungry, is that I get something in my head that I have to eat. Usually it’s something super fattening like a three-cheese grilled cheese sandwich with bacon and tomato smothered in butter and fried until crisp on the outside and oozy on the inside. Yum.

Images of flavorful, fattening foods fill my head. I think of entire meals that I want to prepare and snack through while I’m cooking. My stomach screams for carbs and sauces and cheese and salt.

As I entered Food Emporium, the voices took over and I knew there was no way to escape.  At first I wasn’t sure what the voices were saying…Then they got louder and louder…’Frittata…’, ‘Frittata’ they called to me.

I had to make one. Had to. And I googled hoping to find a healthy, smaller solution to the traditional dish.

But every frittata recipe I found called for like a million billion eggs and fatty meats like sausage and bacon and russet potatoes and heavy cheeses and a brunch party of 8.

There were not – as you might imagine – seven additional people coming to brunch at my apartment today. Nor did I want to max out my daily targeted caloric intake with meats and potatoes and fattiest of cheeses.  Thankfully, paring down is what I do and if I wanted a frittata, damnit! I was going to find a way!

Sweet and Petite Frittata with Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli (Serves 2)

1. Peel about 1.5 inches of a medium sized sweet potato and slice in half. Then CAREFULLY slice the halves very thin on a mandolin – or with a knife.

CAUTION: the mandolin is a tool of death. I lost the top of a finger last year – shaved it right off – had to throw out those yellow squash. So, Please! Use the gripper/hand protector thing and go much slower than you think you have to…

Tool of death mandolin

Tool of Death

2. Slice about 4 small florets of broccoli into bite size pieces

Thinly Sliced Sweet Potatoes and Chopped Broccoli

Veggies Prepped

3. In a non-stick, oven safe 10inch fry pan (I used my All-clad one), heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium to med/high heat. Add the vegetables and saute until softened – about 6-8 minutes

Sweet Potatoes and Broccoli

Veggie Saute

4. In a bowl, whisk together three eggs and 1/4 cup of milk. I used 2% – but, really whole milk would be more delicious…just sayin’

Krazy Mixed Up Salt

This stuff is the bomb

Add salt and pepper to taste – I used about a tsp of Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt – because it has all the good stuff – like one stop spicing.

5. Once the vegetables are softened, pour the egg mixture over the vegetables

6. As the egg mixture starts to dry, gently push them in toward the center of the pan with a spatula  and allow the wetter mixture to flow out to the edges

Frittata for 2

Pulling edges in

7. Once the mixture looks dry – add 1/4 cup of Mozzarella Cheese – sliced or shredded. I didn’t feel like getting out my shredder, so I sliced pretty thin to ensure melty-ness.

Frittata For Two with Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli and Cheese

Add the cheese

8. Pop the pan into the oven and bake for 10 – 12 minutes until golden brown

Breakfast Frittata for Two

Frittata Post Oven with Melty Goodness

9. Allow to cool for about :05 mins, garnish with fresh, chopped parsley and then transfer to a plate, slice and serve

Breakfast Frittata for two

Final Frittata

The frittata is a very versatile dish. Really, you can put anything you want in it – within reason. And, you can make it for a large brunch, for just you or, of course, for two.

I got lucky today. When shopping hungry in the past, I’ve come home with bags of expensive food stuffs that were more than I could ever consume.

Today, I beat the hunger pangs and emerged from the grocery store with just two bags of pretty much essentials and a bill of only $25.  I escaped a potentially disastrous and calorie hazardous situation. And, enjoyed a delightful brunch to boot.