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Breakfast in Bed – Lemon Ricotta Egg Cups

Lemon Ricotta Egg Cups

Post by Alison Hein.

For several months now, I’ve enjoyed making the crisp, salty Prosciutto Egg Cups my friend Michele told me about. So much so, in fact, that I wanted to experiment with the recipe to change them up a little. What if I whisked eggs with some seasonings instead of cracking them whole into the center of the prosciutto?

Lemon Ricotta Egg Cups

I was fumbling with exactly how I should season these imaginary eggs – savory herbs? Spicy pepper? Perhaps some thin-sliced mushrooms? when I had an ‘aha’ moment. A friendly stranger told me about the most divine lemon ricotta pancakes she had enjoyed at the Stoneacre Pantry in Newport, Rhode Island. That was it! I would put an Italian slant on my whisked eggs, adding lemony ricotta cheese, a dash of parmesan, and a sprig of fresh, green basil.

The ricotta-laced eggs emerged from the oven all puffed up and popover like – their warm insides a delightful cheesy fluff; a savory cheesecake. The salty exterior provided a crispy counterpoint to the delicate melt-in-your-mouth middle. If you decide to make your egg cups without their prosciutto wrapper, be sure to add a generous amount of salt to the egg mixture before baking or they may taste a bit bland.

Lemon Ricotta Egg Cups

And, if you’re wondering about those divine pancakes, well, frankly, so am I. On to the next experiment, and hopefully, the next divine breakfast in bed.

Ingredients

Cooking spray
2 pieces prosciutto
2 eggs
¼ cup ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Lemon Ricotta Egg Cups

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spray a muffin tin with cooking spray (for as many eggs as you plan to make). Arrange a piece of prosciutto in each muffin cup, wrapping around the sides and covering the bottom to form a closed bowl.

Crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk until thick and frothy. Stir is ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese and lemon juice. Whisk until smooth and pour egg mixture into prosciutto-lined muffin cups. Grind some fresh black peppercorns onto the top of the egg mixture. Place in oven and bake for around 20 minutes until egg is cooked firm. Carefully scoop out eggs with a large spoon. Garnish with fresh basil and serve hot.

Makes 2 servings.

Lemon Ricotta Egg Cups

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Breakfast in Bed – Kelsey’s Caramelized Banana French Toast

Caramelized Banana French Toast 10

Post by Alison Hein.

My daughter-in-law, Lesley, and her friends requested that I host a Girl’s Night movie screening of the 1987 film Overboard, one of my all-time favorites. Movie night rapidly escalated to include a nautical-themed dinner, replete with a giant sushi boat, napkins folded into little sailboats and personalized life preserver place cards. We made banana boats for our post-movie dessert. Given the late hour and minor excesses, our action-packed evening morphed into a pajama party.

In the morning, I persuaded Lesley’s friend Kelsey to make breakfast (Kelsey is terrifically talented and wonderfully creative in the kitchen). She politely agreed, and embarked on a quick tour of my pantry. Kelsey pulled a loaf of sweet brioche from my freezer, grabbed a few bananas from the fruit bowl, and began assembling an egg-rich French toast inspired by Ina Garten. When the toast was cooked to a buttery gold, Kelsey placed it in a slow oven to keep warm. She then used the same pan to toast the walnuts, and simmer a lightly-rummed sauce into a bubbling glaze for the banana topping.

Caramelized Banana French Toast 3

Our dessert reprised, Kelsey’s caramelized banana breakfast in bed was a sweet culmination of our Overboard extravaganza.

Ingredients

1½ cups milk
6 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon caramel topping
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter
1 loaf sliced brioche bread
¼ cup walnuts
1½ tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon rum
2 bananas, peeled and sliced into ½-inch thick rounds

Caramelized Banana French Toast 6

Preparation

Preheat oven to 250°. Add milk, eggs, vanilla, caramel topping and salt to large bowl. Whisk together until thick and smooth. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Dip bread slices into the egg mixture, turning gently to completely saturate. Add bread slices to pan and cook over medium to medium-low heat, turning once, until golden and cooked through, about 5 to 7 minutes, adding up to 2 additional tablespoons of butter as needed. Place French toast on a large flat baking tray and place in oven to lightly firm while making the caramelized banana topping.

Carefully wipe out pan, and place over medium heat. Add walnuts to pan, and cook for a few minutes until lightly toasted. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. When butter is melted, use the back of a wooden spoon to stir in the brown sugar and rum. Add banana slices and continue to cook, stirring often to coat, until fruit is cooked through and topping is lightly browned and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Remove toast from oven and place on large platter. Cover evenly with banana topping and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Caramelized Banana French Toast 11

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Movies in Bed: Earth to Echo

Earth-to-Echo-NLB

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we tend to crumple at the sight of a snowflake or a frosted window pane. Therefore, I was prepared to stay home when the first icy pellets hit my porch and the call came in that my son’s school was canceled. I still had work to do, but without any actual snow for him to play it, I was pressed to come up with activities to keep him entertained. By two o’clock in the afternoon, we were all feeling stretched so I suggested we find a movie to watch!

The moment the cover for Earth to Echo popped up on the screen, he knew that was the movie he wanted to see. He was not disappointed.

Earth to Echo is part E.T., part Cloverfield, part Goonies. Three adolescent boys are losing their homes to a freeway project. For their last night together, they decide to go on a big adventure. When their phones go all haywire, they realize, eventually, that they are suddenly showing them a map, guiding them to something out in the Nevada desert. Determined to record the whole event, they head out in the darkness on bikes, equipped with Go Pro cameras, spy cameras, smartphones. What they find is just the first piece of a puzzle that will lead them through deserts, danger, and strangers eager to get their hands on the little robotic alien nicknamed “Echo”.

This is a great fun and exciting movie for elementary age kids. Lots of action without any violence, and a satisfying, if bittersweet ending that will leave them pleased.

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Breakfast in Bed – Pumpkin Pie Waffles

Pumpkin Pie Waffles

by Alison Hein.

Pumpkin is a harvest food. It’s not right to partake of pumpkin outside of autumn (it would be like eating gazpacho in winter, or a thick stew in summer). Savory pumpkin is wonderful. I like to chop and clean a fresh pumpkin, drizzle it with oil and spices, and roast it in a hot oven for an evening side dish. But sweet pumpkin is even more wonderful. Cooked, puréed, blended with eggs and a medley of pie spice, pumpkin rises to its flavorful peak. And since it’s November (and I shouldn’t have pie for breakfast), I’ve transformed waffles with sweet pumpkin and luxurious spice.

Pumpkin Pie Waffles

The trickiest thing about making waffles is pouring the proper amount of batter into the iron. Too much, and the gooey batter oozes from the edges and drips down the sides. Too little, and the puny waffles will be tough, and the rim of latticework ruined. With practice, you will be able to get it just right for your particular waffle iron and recipe. When you experiment with new batters, however, you may find yourself back at square one. For me it’s an easy decision – go for the heavy pour, then trim the waffles and scrub the iron when finished.

So blend; pour; trim; slosh with real maple syrup. Then partake of a harvest pumpkin breakfast in bed  just as wonderful as pie.

Pumpkin Pie Waffles

Ingredients

2 cups flour
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1½ cups milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup vegetable oil, or butter, melted and slightly cooled
½ cup pumpkin purée (fresh or canned)
Cooking spray

Pumpkin Pie Waffles

Preparation

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in large bowl. In separate bowl, add milk, eggs and vanilla and beat until frothy. Pour oil or melted butter into liquid mixture and stir well. Using a wooden spoon or hand mixer, gradually add liquid mixture to dry ingredients until batter is smooth. Stir in pumpkin purée.

Spray waffle iron with cooking spray and heat to high. Pour ½ cup to ¾ cup batter into center of iron, making sure you have enough batter to evenly spread across the surface of your waffle iron. Cook until golden brown and crisp and waffle pulls away easily from iron, about 5 – 7 minutes. Serve warm with melted butter and maple syrup.

Makes approximately 5 waffles.

Pumpkin Pie Waffles

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Breakfast in Bed – Date Nut Bread

Date Nut Bread

Post by Alison Hein.

My grandma used to bake Date Nut Bread in an old coffee can. It was common practice to clean and generously grease a coffee tin with shortening, then fill it with batter, place it in a hot oven, and bake a dense, round loaf. As kids, we would anxiously gather around the stove, inhaling the baking bread’s sweet aroma, eagerly awaiting its completion.

While you still see many round bread loaves (Boston Brown Bread as well as Date Nut and Raisin Nut), it is becoming ever more difficult to locate tin, oven-proof coffee containers. Check carefully in the grocery store before purchasing, as many modern containers are made of paper, plastic or cardboard – none of which work well in the oven!

Date Nut Bread

My ongoing frustration with food history compelled me to skip it for this post (so many claim to be the originators of Date Nut Bread!), with one important exception. In the 1950s and ‘60s, when Chock Full o’Nuts lunch counters were wildly prolific, Date Nut Sandwiches – two thick slices of Date Nut Bread slathered with cream cheese – were a star of the menu.

Chock Full o’Nuts tried to make a recent comeback with mixed results. The company still makes and sells its popular coffee (anyone remember the famous “heavenly coffee” jingle?). Why not go buy some? Make a giant pot of coffee, then use the canister to whip up a loaf of Date Nut Bread. Bake. Cool. Slice. Slather with cream cheese. Pour yourself a steaming cup and reminisce over a heavenly breakfast in bed.

Equipment

1 tin coffee can, with top removed

Date Nut Bread

Ingredients

½ cup butter
½ cup light brown sugar
1 cup white flour
¼ cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup chopped walnuts
Cooking spray, or other shortening, for greasing coffee can

Date Nut Bread

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy. In a separate bowl, mix together white flour, wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add dry ingredients all at once to butter mixture, stirring to combine. Add eggs, honey and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in dates and walnuts. Spoon batter into a well-greased coffee can. Bake at 350° for about 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on rack at least 20 minutes. Remove from coffee can and slice.

Makes one loaf.

Date Nut Bread

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