Thursday, August 26, 2010

28. Baked Eggs Florentine

I've come across several "baked" egg recipes lately. I wasn't ever thrilled with any one I've come across, given I haven't loved all of the ingredients on the list. I really wanted a gourmet breakfast and decided to think about everything I love in my favorite frittata from my favorite cafe in town and I'd make a baked egg dish with a similar flavor.

I've made up the name on my own. It might be close to eggs florentine (eggs with spinach and cream sauce) but if you don't think so, then we'll just call it the baked egg thingy I put spinach in. The end.

I've gathered eggs, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, heavy cream, butter, salt and pepper.

Start by preheating the oven to 450 degrees and greasing your baking dishes. I've used individual casserole dishes, but you can also use ramekins. Or how about just one big casserole dish?

After you've greased it, layer your spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, and half the basil - dividing the ingredients evenly.

Next add the butter and heavy cream - again divided evenly.

Sprinkle a little shaved parmesan cheese on top and pop in the oven for 7-8 minutes. I found it easiest to put my individual dishes on a baking sheet. You want the spinach to wilt and the butter to melt.

Remove from the oven and carefully crack two eggs in to each baking dish.

Top with the rest of the basil, a little more parmesan cheese and a dash of salt & pepper. Place back in the oven to bake for an additional 7-8 minutes (9-10 minutes for a firmer yolk). Remove from the oven and allow to set.

I wish the picture had done this justice. It was so much prettier in person. It looked beautiful in my pink pyrex and tasted absolutely amazing! These would be great for a quiet Sunday breakfast, to impress a house guest or even for a brunch or shower!

Make this soon. I promise you'll enjoy!

Baked Eggs Florentine

8 whole eggs
1 cup spinach
1 cup mushrooms
1 cup tomatoes
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 sprig fresh basil
Parmesan for sprinkling
Salt & Pepper to taste

Preaheat oven to 450 degrees & grease baking dishes.

Tear spinach leaves, dice mushrooms & tomatoes, remove basil leaves from stem and tear. Layer spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes and half the basil in the baking dishes - dividing evenly.

Cube 2 tbsp cold butter & divide evenly among the baking dishes along with the heavy cream. Place individual dishes on a baking sheet, sprinkle with a bit of shaved parmesan and place in the oven for 7-8 minutes.

Remove from the oven and carefully crack 2 eggs in to each baking dish. Top with the rest of the basil, a little parmesan cheese and a dash of salt & pepper. Place in the oven to bake for an additional 7-8 minutes. Cook 9-10 minutes for firmer yolks.

Remove from the oven and allow to set prior to serving.

Serves 4

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Junky Chair: Part 2

The junky chair is complete (see the beginning here)! The little silver nail heads came and after a week of working on it when I felt like it, the back is on and the chair is complete. It's quite adorable. Not the best upholstery job, but it was my first and I know next time will be better.

The back panel was the biggest challenge. Not a beautiful job, so thankfully it's on the back side.

I didn't manage to get the nail heads in perfectly straight but part of it is illusion because of the print of the fabric. It does make it look very polished.

My little Zoey looks terribly cute on the chair. Too bad she would rather look at Kenzie rather than the camera. I promise I don't force my dogs to do things they don't want to do, like pose for pictures. Otherwise you'd see a lot more of them.

The chair was a good experience. Can't wait to get my hands on a great wingback chair and see what I can muster out of it!

*I've linked this project up with a lot of other fabulous projects over at Funky Junk Interiors!*

Monday, August 23, 2010

27. Chicken Bacon Mac & Cheese

I was trying to figure out what to make for breakfast. By the time I had chosen from my 30 some saved breakfast recipes it was 10:00am. We had to make it to DOL to license our new boat and trailer, then hit the grocery store. At the very last minute we chose a lunch option given our anticipated arrival time home.

My husband loves all things cheesy and of course bacon, so this will work for today.

Start with 4 slices of bacon, cook over medium heat until browned. Make sure they're not too crispy, but not too soft.

Slice or dice half of a sweet onion. When the bacon is finished - remove from the pan and reserve 1tbsp of the bacon grease. Cook onions over medium heat until just browned. Remove and set aside.

Grate 1 cup of cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup gruyere cheese and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese.

Bring your pasta water to a boil and add 1lb elbow macaroni and cook according to the package.

In the pan used to cook the bacon and onions, combine 1tbsp butter and 1tbsp flour. Mix to make a roux. Add 2 cups milk and 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream to the roux. Be sure to stir constantly to avoid clumping. Cook over medium-low heat and allow to thicken slightly. Add in the grated cheese and a pinch of nutmeg. Stir well to combine and simmer for 5 minutes to allow time to thicken. Stir frequently to avoid burning.

Cook up 2 chicken breasts. We had ours on the smoker, then finished them up on the stove to ensure they were cooked all the way through. Grill or bake them. We seasoned with a smoky kickin' chicken seasoning blend. Cube up both breasts and set aside with your bacon and onions.

In a 9"x13" pan, add half the macaroni.

Then add half the bacon, onions and chicken.

Top with half the cheese sauce and repeat. I topped my second layer off with a sprinkle of bread crumbs and extra shaved parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven, then broil on high for 2-3 minutes to brown the top.

This is a beautiful, flavorful dish. I'm not a huge mac & cheese fan and I absolutely loved this. Best mac & cheese recipe I've made by far (sorry PW)!

Chicken Bacon Mac & Cheese
adapted from How Sweet It Is

1lb elbow macaroni
2 boneless chicken breasts, grilled and chopped
4 slices of bacon, fried and crumbled
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1tbsp bacon grease
1tbsp butter
1tbsp flour
pinch of nutmeg
2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated smoked gruyere cheese
1/2 cup shaved parmesan cheese
Bread crumbs (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Boil water for pasta and cook according to directions. In a skillet fry bacon reserving 1tbsp bacon grease. Remove bacon, crumble and add onions to the bacon grease to brown. Set onions aside with the crumbled bacon. While water is boiling, make sauce. Add 1tbsp butter and 1tbsp flour to skillet to create a roux. Add milk and cream, stirring constantly. Add cheeses and pinch of nutmeg, stirring consistently for 5 minutes until mixture thickens.

In a 9"x13" baking dish layer half the pasta, onion, bacon, chicken and cheese sauce. Repeat process. (Optional) Add bread crumbs and shaved parmesan cheese and place in the oven to bake for 20 minutes. Broil under high heat for an additional 2-3 minutes to brown the top.

Makes 8-12 servings depending on portion size.

Happy Monday & Enjoy!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Honesty out of failure.

I've been dreading this post for a long while now. Trust me, it's been on my mind. Perhaps it's because I don't want to admit I failed because ultimately I made myself accountable by telling you about it. This post this morning made me realize that maybe it was time to come clean. If you run and haven't checked out Amanda's blog, RuntoTheFinish, you're missing out on a fabulous running community.

In June I lost my motivation to run. In that I wasted 6 weeks of dedicated training that pushed me to my limits and proved me I was a good runner. I have a list of excuses I could share, but I feel like all but one was truly a factor. Everything else was stuff I could have gotten over.

I did not run my half marathon in July. The last time I ran was with my dad at the Livestrong event in Seattle. I hadn't run for 3 weeks prior to that race. I'm so thankful I didn't let my dad down. I wavered back and forth the week before the half  knowing I had let my training go and hadn't run more than 8 miles. I feared injuring myself if I pushed it for the sake of pride and in the end I didn't go.

My biggest failure factor is my battle with depression. I was sad, overwhelmed and tired all the time. I just couldn't make myself get out the door. I've struggled on and off with it for years and not until this year did I truly seek treatment. My doctor prescribed me medication a few months back and I saw an immediate improvement with my energy and my desire to be active again. I was over the moon for my half and I trained hard.

Slowly my motivation faded and again I was feeling sad, overwhelmed and tired all the time. You haven't met a professional sleeper until you've owned a cat or have simply met me. I was a month away from my follow up with my doctor and instead of calling to get in early to discuss how I was feeling, I let it go. I can't tell you how big of a mistake that was. When I saw her at my appointment we discussed the best course of action and I've been happy with the results.

I felt embarrassed at first to admit that I was taking depression medication, but I know now I wont take it forever. If you feel you need help, seek help! Don't wait! Your doctor can help you choose the right course of action to get back on the road to recovery. Life is now, in the present. We can't waste our time thinking we'll feel better tomorrow. I'm so thankful that lots of prayer and a little medication has help me feel sane again.

I feel like I'm still in a running rut though I feel 110% better mentally and I hope to get back on the wagon soon. I have a 5k run planned with my parents on Saturday and I hope this is exactly what I need to get back in gear. I will run a half marathon one day. The thought of the challenge gets me so excited. I just don't think this was my year.

Thanks for all of the support and kind words I've gotten about my running, I'll be back at it soon!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Color suggestions, anyone?

I bought the junky chair without really knowing where to put it. The guest bedroom won. Mostly because I had to figure out a plan before my husband got home and I got the look.

I've been on a junk collecting rampage as of late. So I have new end tables to paint for the guest bedroom, I need to repaint the bed frame and finish up the junky chair. Then all I'll have left is a trip to Ikea to pick up the rest of my curtains and duvet and it will be set***.

I've had this lovely frame from Ikea for about 3 years now. It's hung on the wall empty the entire time. I have no idea what to put in it but mostly, I don't know what color to paint it.

The junky chair is yellow, black and white. The bed frame and tables will be white. Suggestions? The duvets I'm choosing between at Ikea are both white - one with a gray patter and the other with a light floral pattern. Oh the decisions.

Suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

*** I have major ADD, apparently. I've made no progress on the master and am collecting so much junk I have to find a new room to put it in. Hello spare bedroom. I need an intervention.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Junky Chair: Part 1

I've been insanely busy with work. Lots of OT to fill, lots of hours away from home. I had just one full day off to do something of my choosing over my last (should have been 4 day) weekend. Husband was out of town and I was left with no rules.

So I shopped.

At the thrift store I scored two great finds.

These matching lamps

a junky chair.

I spied this junky chair on the tippy top shelf at the thrift store (like Walmart aisle high). I pulled it down hoping I wouldn't have a dramatic accident. I love it, so it came home with me.

I left the thrift store with an idea in my head and went straight to Home Depot. I then carted out 9 cans of spray paint and primer. Then off to Walmart to browse the fabric section.

You surely can't beat $1.50 a yard. Or the fact that the girl cutting the fabric kindly gave me extra because she felt there was just a little too much fringe that I'd probably have to cut off. What a sweetie.

I carefully removed all of the old fabric and the bottom cushioning. I sanded and wiped down the legs.

I primed, then painted the bottom half of the chair a lovely yellow. While it dried I went inside and cut my pattern out of the new fabric. Carefully removing the old fabric allowed me to use it as a pattern. I cut the new fabric just a tad bit bigger in case I made any mistakes. Which of course I have, and have to fix. But thankfully I have the room to do it!

The back went on nicely. I was super pleased. I used a heavy duty stapler to attach the fabric. One I borrowed from my neighbor who wasn't home. Their son was. He only gave me the stapler, and no extra staples. There weren't many in there and with as shy as I am, I couldn't make myself go back over to knock on the door again.

"Um hi... While I'm using your stapler to recover a chair for my house, how about you provide me with all the staples for the job too..."

My conservation powers still made for a killer staple job.

The seat was a little more testy.

The skirt was my biggest enemy. This chair was all no-sew. The skirt was cut from the edge of the fabric and then folded in half to create a clean bubble hem. I fused the top together with hemming tape, then folded the top again to create a lip to attach the skirt to the chair without staples or nails showing.

I also ran out of staples, so thankfully I saved the old upholstery nails from the last job. I even added little pleats along the way.

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out so far. The picture doesn't really do the look of the fabric justice one bit. The back still isn't attached because I don't want any nails showing like the previous job had done. So I found the pretty silver upholstery nail heads online and ordered them up. As soon as they're here I'll line the top of the skirt and around the back to attach the last piece of fabric. With paint drying and a beer break it took about six hours.

Fun none the less! Can't wait to share the finished product. Oh, and the lamps too!

Check out where I've shared my junky chair:

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

26. Strawberry Crumb Cake

This was way too easy.

It all started back on June 23rd. This was the day I threw a surprise party for my BFF/co-worker. I made him (yes, him) cupcakes for his birthday. The cupcakes that changed my life.

From that day forward I've had a terrible sugar craving. I was making cupcakes weekly and eating them by the dozen. My waistline isn't happy, and now I'm sure I'll need rehab if I so choose to give up the large quantities of sugar I've been consuming.

This day I needed something sweet. IMMEDIATELY. Thank you love of my life, PW, for this recipe that day. I had everything but blueberries, so I just used the strawberries in the fridge.

No step by step pictures, I got called in for an OT shift so I was in a hurry. I did take a picture of the finished product before we made our way through that pan of crumb cake (in 24 hours). Yikes.

Make and enjoy! Happy Wednesday!