#52NewEats :: Week 37 :: Vegan Strawberry Cream Cheez Rolls

Vegan Strawberry Cream Cheez Rolls

Hey y’all!  I am SO EXCITED to share this recipe with you today because it’s part of a little collaboration I did with two of my favoritest ladies on the planet, Heather and Eryn at //The Practical Minimalists//.  I have been listening to their podcast since earlier this year and as you know, as I’ve mentioned here before, they are a big part of what has inspired me to live more intentionally.  I can honestly say they helped motivate me to finally get my barn unpacked and get rid of more than half the stuff that had been sitting in boxes for over a year!  As a result, my house is most definitely less cluttered, and now, if I even think a little pile of something starting to develop, I almost get some kind of itch to take care of it before it turns into anything crazy.  I find with each podcast I listen to, that I relate to them on practically every topic they cover – from their recent show about news consumption, to their episode on meal planning, and even, especially, all the way back to their series on “unbecoming”.  In fact, I have been wanting to go back and re-listen to those episodes, as well as the ones they did with //Jess Lively//, so I will have to do that soon!  I love their show so much, because as the name suggests, they approach minimalism in a practical way – and insist that it doesn’t have to look any one way: you don’t have to wear black all the time and have one chair in your living room; minimalism can look how you want it to look.  This way, there is no pressure to fit into some predetermined category or label; it can be whatever you want it to be.  So please, if you are feeling like you need some motivation or inspiration to de-clutter your life (in more ways than just the physical), //check out their podcast// and you can thank me later.  😘

Now!  Onto the food.

Eryn shared this recipe with me and I positively jumped at the chance to make it.  For one thing, if you’ve been following along with me recently, you know that I have been heading down a more vegetarian path.  I have also dabbled in vegan baking recently when I shared these //chocolate chip cookie bars// with you, which was a bit of a turning point for me because I think I had been in the camp of, “ew, vegan!” before.  And now here is the second vegan recipe I’ve made, and I am honestly realizing that there is really nothing “ew” at all about vegan food.  In fact – I am planning on trying a vegan queso in the very near future 😱 as the self-proclaimed #connoisseurofnachos, I will be SURE to report back on its worthiness!  But anyway.  These strawberry rolls were really, really tasty.  This was my first time trying vegan cream cheese – I swear it doesn’t even taste different to me than regular cream cheese.  And, bonus!, at my Whole Foods I found the //coconut milk yogurt// that my high school friend, Anita, has been working tirelessly on developing over recent years, and I was jazzed at the opportunity to use it here!

My sister and I baked these //strawberry cream cheez rolls// together – I was happy to have her help as I am more of a cook than a baker, and she is a pro biscuit maker, so she happily cut that cold vegan butter into the dry ingredients for me and rolled it out into the most perfect rectangle.  We refrigerated the roll for about twice as long before cutting, just to make really really sure it was properly chilled.  And, instead of using Eryn’s vegan red food dye recipe listed on her blog post, I cooked down the rest of the strawberries with a little bit of water, and made a strawberry syrup.  I then pressed it through a sieve and dyed the frosting pink that way.  And, uh, it.  was.  so.  delicious.  🙌

Once I pulled these out of the oven, I was having a hard time waiting for them to cool to eat them (are you surprised?).  And then once the frosting started to melt all over the warm rolls I couldn’t contain myself.  So I did my due diligence with the photographs and promptly scarfed down my first roll.  And now, I kid you not, as I write this, I am scarfing down another.  🙂  And my belly is happy.

Would you know that these are vegan?  No, not by taste.  They are quite tasty.  Maybe by texture?  But that could be the gluten-free-ness of this recipe.  This is not a fluffy, sugary, strawberry version of a Cinnabon (which, if you’ve ever had one, you may recall sits in your stomach like a boulder for the rest of the day.  Who wants that?  Not me!).  Here’s what I think, though.  It shouldn’t really matter what’s in them – it should only matter what your tongue thinks when you shovel a forkful into your mouth.  Is your tongue happy?  Yes?  Then eat more.  😊

(She says, as she digs into her second strawberry roll in 15 minutes…)

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#52NewEats :: Week 36 :: World’s Greatest Onion Dip

World's Greatest Onion Dip

Ok so.  I’m just going to say this loud and clear: you WILL want this dip at your next family or friends get-together.  You just will.

You WILL need to get over the idea of sauteeing the onions for 45-60 minutes.  You just will.  Because this step, this crucial step, is what sets this dip apart from the very simple French onion dip you have come to know and love.  If you’re not willing to slowly caramelize these onions then step aside and do not make this dip, my friend.

I can tell you that my mouth is watering right now as I’m typing this, literally, I swear, not lying.  I can’t wait to make this recipe again, and soon!

You can find the original recipe //here//.

Some notes:

🍴  If your onions are caramelizing too fast, lower the heat.  You don’t want to burn them.

🍴  I did not think it was necessary to drag out my stand mixer for this task; so I used handheld electric beaters, and I just made sure I beat the cream cheese, sour cream, and mayo together for the full 5 minutes.  It really did make a difference to beat these for that long.  If your handheld beaters have a whisk attachment, even better, but I just made sure I beat everything up real good.

🍴  I served this dip with chips like I usually do for onion dip – the saltier, the better, so I went with Ruffles.  😊

🍴  I also topped with chives because extra onion flavor but also pretty green and super yum!

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#52NewEats :: Week 30 :: Apple Almond Muffins

Apple Almond Muffins

I met an adorable fellow food blogger, Daniela, in the food bloggers group on Facebook, and immediately fell in love with her work because….. well, because the very first post I read of hers had the F word in it, and I knew she was my kind of girl!

Ok, ok, ok… also, because, she focuses primarily on sweets?  But uh, not just any sweets, vegan sweets!  If you have not dabbled in vegetarianism or veganism, you might be sitting there wondering just how possible it is to create vegan sweets recipes that actually taste good, and Daniela is here to tell you, and I am here to echo her, that it is ENTIRELY possible, and ENTIRELY delicious.

I have made two of Daniela’s recipes now – the second will be up very soon – and I just went to her page to grab the link to her blog, //Dulce y Natural//, and noticed now she’s got a carrot cake recipe up.  And lord help me, because if I have major weaknesses, carrot cake is definitely one of many…  But anyway, yes, I have made two of her recipes so far, and these muffins promptly disappeared, and I made the mistake of sharing the second recipe with my vegan BFFs instead of keeping them all to myself, so I guess I need to make those again too (stay tuned!!)…

These //apple almond muffins// were the PERFECT little vegan companion to my vegan smoothie for breakfast every morning.  Um, actually, I guess mine weren’t so vegan since I did slather some Kerrygold butter on them, but, ok, vegetarian muffin with vegan smoothie, good enough.  #plantbased #imgettingthere

I have to admit, I have not done much vegetarian or vegan baking, and I was not sure how these would turn out or come together.  But they totally surprised me, and now I am a believer.  When you are raised to believe that “you need an egg to bind it”, then you read a recipe for something like a muffin and of course feel doubt that it would come together.  These muffins were delicious though, and so easy to make, considering I pretty much always have all of these ingredients in my house anyway.  The only thing I will say though is, I am not sure how accurate conversion measurements would be.  I have a kitchen scale, so I set it to grams, and measured everything out that way.  I attempted to google conversions but they were so precise, I didn’t even bother going that way.

Go check out Daniela’s blog, and make these muffins!

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Favorite Banana Oatmeal Smoothie

Banana Oatmeal Smoothie

So it’s sort of time for me to come clean about something, and that something has directly lead to the development of this smoothie recipe, so here goes.

Back in May I woke up in the middle of the night one night with incredibly severe knee pain in my right knee.  I was laying in bed and thought maybe I was sleeping in a funny position and tried to roll over, but I couldn’t lift my leg.  I had to lift my leg with my hands to move it at all.  Pain shot from my knee up my thigh to my hip, blinding me, it was so bad.  I was near tears, and tried getting out of bed to walk it off.  I walked back and forth in my bedroom, kicking my foot out randomly, attempting to pop my kneecap back in place (I thought maybe it had popped out), but nothing helped.  Eventually, I got back into bed and didn’t sleep for the rest of the night because the pain was so terrible.

The next morning, I called my doctor first thing and got an appointment around lunchtime.  I went to work, my knee bothering me on the drive in, on the trek up the stairs, etc.  I really thought something bad had happened to my knee.  So I go to the doctor, and she’s doing her doctor thing, checking for swelling in my knee (there was), checking movement (she made me squat and was impressed with my form 💁), etc.  Then she moves on to the normal stuff, checking my blood pressure, listening to my heart…

She heard something through the stethoscope that sent her into a panic.  She began asking me all kinds of questions – do I ever have heart palpitations?  I don’t think so?  Do I take birth control?  Yes…  Have I ever fainted?  No…  Have I ever had a blood clot?

….a blood clot??

She says she is hearing “too many beats” with my heart, and they aren’t registering on that finger clip thing (pulse ox?), she can only hear them through the stethoscope.  So she sends me to another room where they quickly slap some electrodes on me and take an EKG where they find all these extra heart beats.  The whole time she’s asking me how I feel and I’m just like, “I feel fine, but uh, my knee hurts…?”

She essentially freaks out and sends me to the hospital for blood tests (one to rule out a blood clot, another standard round of bloodwork minus cholesterol as I hadn’t fasted) and an x-ray (for my knee).  All the symptoms presented “could” point to a blood clot, and though it’s the worst case scenario and maybe the two events aren’t even related, she must do her due diligence and rule it out.  She left the room for a minute and I started crying.  A blood clot?  I am 37.  Stop it.  Old people get blood clots.  And wtf is going on with my heart?

So I pulled myself together, contacted my friend at work and tell her to please tell some people I wouldn’t be making a meeting I’d had scheduled for 1pm and that they should proceed without me, and contacted my manager to let him know I wouldn’t be back for the afternoon.  And off to the hospital I went.

The whole time this is going on, of course I can’t stop my brain from buzzing.  This is it, it’s finally caught up to me.  If I don’t have a blood clot, then something is wrong with my heart and I’m gonna have to eat buckets of lettuce for the rest of my life.  But that will totally be okay, because I will kick ass harder in the gym, and I will make myself healthy, and I will have more time with my family.

Later that day, I was sitting on my couch when I received the phone call that I did NOT have a blood clot (THANK YOU JESUS 🙏).  A little while after that, I received the phone call that said my x-ray revealed “arthritic damage” in my knee.  I was ordered to be seen by a cardiologist the next day (for a formal EKG and determination of whatever was going on with my heart), and to follow-up with an orthopedist for my knee problem.

When I woke up the next morning, magically, somehow, my knee pain was completely gone.  It was like it had never happened.  I mean, I couldn’t even make it happen again.  It had disappeared as quickly as it had shown up.

Suspecting my cardiologist may want to do a blood test for cholesterol, I made sure I didn’t eat before my appointment.  They hooked me up for another EKG and determined that what they were finding were PVC heartbeats – premature ventricular contractions.  PVCs are like little pre-heartbeats, kind of like a flutter.  If a normal heartbeat goes ba-BUM ba-BUM ba-BUM, my heart beats like baba-ba-BUM baba-ba-BUM baba-ba-BUM.  Some people say they feel them, but I don’t.  My cardiologist assured me that most of the time, PVCs are benign; but that sometimes, they can point to something else going on with the heart.  So, he ordered several more tests for the coming weeks, as well as a cholesterol blood test to be done that day.

Later that day, I was once again sitting on my couch when I received the phone call with my cholesterol blood test results.

(As a side note, I will just tell you that I almost feel like this is what I was dreading the most.  I have always had “perfect” blood pressure, but I have wondered about my cholesterol levels.  It can be a silent killer!, according to the interwebz and various documentaries I’ve seen.  I had actually scheduled a physical for the day after my birthday this year, with the specific intention of getting bloodwork to see what my cholesterol levels were, figuring it was probably high time that I change my diet (RIP SFB?), but I came down with strep throat and ended up cancelling it.)

So the nurse calls me and says, “The doctor says your cholesterol results are acceptable.”  And I went, “Oh!  Whew!  Oh my gosh, great news, thank you!!!”  And we hung up.

And then…. doubt.

Acceptable?  Why “acceptable”, why not “good”?

So I called her back and asked her for the specific numbers.   The breakdown:

  • Overall cholesterol:  205
  • Triglycerides:  104
  • HDL (“good” cholesterol):  64
  • LDL (“bad” cholesterol):  119

According to a chart I found published by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, my overall cholesterol should be under 200, so I fell into the “borderline high” category.  Triglycerides should be under 150, so I was good.  HDL should be higher than 60, so I was good (yay!).  And LDL should really be less than 100, but okay to be less than 129, so I was good there too.

Even though those results were “acceptable”, and by all means, I should feel blessed, considering my love for cheese and red meat, I felt like I had some work to do.  I wanted to focus on raising my “good” cholesterol and lowering my “bad” cholesterol, because even though they were good enough that I don’t need medicine, I don’t ever want to get to the point where I do need medicine.  So let’s nip this shit in the bud RIGHT NOW.

The number one factor in your cholesterol levels is your diet, closely followed by the amount of exercise you do.  Now listen.  You’re talking to the girl that has a blog and an Instagram account focused on food.  And not just any food, SLUTTY food.  Food that is not good for you!  Food that is bad for you.  On the one hand, I am eternally grateful that my eating habits so far have not lead to an early heart attack, BUT, I AM getting older, and I believe it is time for me to start being more mindful of the food I’m putting into my mouth.

So, off to the interwebz I go, looking for foods that raise your good cholesterol and lower your bad cholesterol. The number one food that lowers bad cholesterol is: OATS!  Ok, I like oats.  We can figure out how to incorporate these into my diet.  It means I need to shuck the grain free thing, or at least count it in the 20 of my 80/20 grain free rule.  Also: whole grains!  Beans!  And some of my favorite fruits!  Awesome, I’ve got this.  One of the top foods that raise your good cholesterol is: AVOCADOS!  Sweet!  I love avocados.  If I put half an avocado on a slice of Ezekiel toast every morning for breakfast, then I will be simultaneously raising my good cholesterol AND lowering my bad cholesterol!

So naturally the NEXT place I go to is Pinterest, looking for oatmeal recipes.  I actually kind of hate oatmeal itself, but don’t hate oats.  Oatmeal is mushy and sticky and sooo filling, so I thought about finding oatmeal smoothie recipes that I could drink with my cholesterol-kicking powerhouse avocado toast.  I found several banana oatmeal smoothie recipes with similar ingredients, that were all very delicious, but somehow over the last two months, in the fog and rush of early morning sleepiness, I ended up combining my favorite things from each smoothie recipe into its very own SFB version.  And now, voila, we have my favorite banana oatmeal smoothie recipe.

And so, over the last two months, I have:

  • Been eating avocado toast + banana oatmeal smoothie almost every morning;
  • Passed my ECG with flying colors;
  • Passed my stress test with flying colors;
  • Found out, as a result of wearing a heart monitor for 24 hours, that the reason I sometimes feel faint, dizzy, or nauseous during the day is because my PVCs are occurring at a higher frequency (NOT low blood sugar or dehydration like I always attributed it to);
  • Found out that there actually wasn’t “arthritic damage” in my knee; but that I AM predisposed to knee problems due to a history playing basketball in my youth, and therefore am forbidden from running (especially on a treadmill), jumping, and lunging (aw, shucks!).

Last week I had a checkup with my cardiologist to go over the results of all the tests, and he says if anything popped up in any of the other tests, that he would be concerned and look deeper into what could be going on.  He assured me that one of the top indicators of these PVCs being benign is the fact that they literally disappeared during the stress test (exercise).  If they were still present or got worse during the stress test, it would be a high indicator of a deeper problem.  But he feels confident in saying to me that these are benign and currently nothing to worry about.  HOWEVER.  I will see him again in 6 months for a follow-up, and probably get another ECG after that, just to make sure something isn’t developing.  It’s something we keep an eye on, even though right now they are benign.  What a relief!!

If you’ve read this far, I reckon you deserve a treat.  So here it is, my favorite, very filling, very nutritious, banana oatmeal smoothie.  🙂  Stay healthy, y’all.

Banana Oatmeal Smoothie
Serves: 1

Ingredients
1 cup vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup rolled / old-fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon apple pie spice (or pumpkin pie spice), optional
1 tablespoon syrup (you can use maple, or I use coconut palm syrup)
1-2 tablespoons nut butter (I like almond butter or cashew butter)
1 banana, sliced and frozen

Directions
1. Pour almond milk into the blender and add the rest of the ingredients. Let the oats soak in the almond milk for a little bit to soften them up and make them easier to blend. I usually let them sit for about 10-15 minutes while I’m doing other stuff in the kitchen. Then, flip your blender onto “puree” and blend until nice and smooth. Pro tip: freeze your smoothie cup for 10-15 minutes and it will keep your smoothie extra cold for your ride to work.  😉

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#365Recipes :: Chicken and Waffles Benedict

Chicken and Waffles Benedict

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I joined a Facebook group for food bloggers.  The owner of that group is running a project called #365Recipes, which is somewhat similar to my #52NewEats and #12NewTreats projects.  It’s just another way to spark my creativity and get me in the kitchen!!

The ingredient for today was ‘waffles’, so I thought it would be a good time to retry my Chicken and Waffles Benedict recipe.  I had tried this over a year ago, but wasn’t 100% sold because the waffle was too sweet.  I know that traditional chicken and waffles is served with maple syrup, but I’m not sold on that either…

So like, I’m a Recovering Picky Eater.  Growing up I was incredibly picky – there was even a point in my life where I didn’t like pizza.  (Whaaaaa?)  I mean, I also remember a time where I didn’t know how you turned a brick of cheese into shredded cheese.  (Can’t you only get shredded cheese in bags?)  I truly have my husband’s mother to thank for introducing me to new things when we started dating.  SO.  With that said – even though I have grown up and REALLY come a long, long way, there are some ‘ew’ reactions that still linger on…  I could never eat fruit on salad, I really don’t understand eating fruit with meat (applesauce and pork chops? BARF!), which all sort of comes down to me not understanding the mix between sweet and savory.  My tongue just says it’s a no go.

So yeah, the first time I made Chicken and Waffles Benedict, everything was okay but the waffle still tasted like a breakfast waffle to me.  I was getting hung up on that.  I couldn’t move forward from it.  So I set out to figure out how to make a savory waffle – which I immediately searched on Pinterest and found many ideas, but none that I thought would really jive with fried chicken and a poached egg and hollandaise sauce.

Cue the #365Recipes project many months later.  I’m at Whole Foods, doing my weekly shopping trip, hoping for some inspiration on how to make a waffle savory.  I knew I was making this recipe the very next day so the pressure was on.  As I made my way through the produce section I noticed a table with some ridiculous-smelling smoked English cheddar on display.  And, POOF!  That’s IT!  Smoked cheddar!  And what… what else?  Something green.  CHIVES!

And so my smoked cheddar and chives waffle was born!

I was so excited about it that when I got home I told Aaron about it right away.  And he promptly made a stinky face.  He’s a stinker.

But guess what.  Those waffles smelled so good when they were cooking.  And then when they were done I tried one and it tasted amazing.  And then we built the whole dish together and the whole thing – together – amazing.  I swear there’s something to this ‘smoke’ thing.  Last week I told you about how liquid smoke changed my life with sloppy joes and now this week it’s smoked cheddar.  Maybe we need a smoker?

I don’t think Aaron would mind…

Chicken and Waffles Benedict
Serves 4

Ingredients
Waffles:
Enough waffle mix to make 4 4×4-inch Belgian waffles (I use //this waffle maker//)
1/4 cup smoked cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon chopped chives

Fried Chicken:
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
4 chicken cutlets

4 poached eggs
Prepared hollandaise sauce (I like //this brand// or //this brand//)
Chopped chives for garnish, if desired
Smoked paprika for garnish, if desired

Directions
1. Make your waffles: Grate the smoked cheddar on a Microplane grater, or on the finest holes available on your box grater. Prepare waffle mix according to package directions, then stir in the smoked cheddar and chives. (Note: My waffle mix, for four waffles, uses 1 cup of mix plus wet ingredients. You may be able to figure out how to scale up or down from there, depending on your waffle mix.) When combined, pour into a preheated waffle maker. Close the lid and cook to desired doneness. Cook time will depend on your individual waffle maker. When waffles are finished, remove from the waffle maker, and keep warm, depending on your pace with the other ingredients.

2. Bread and fry your chicken: Preheat the oil in your fryer to 375 (DISCLAIMER: This is the temperature we use. Different fryers may recommend different temperatures for frying chicken. Check your manual, or check online if necessary). Combine the buttermilk and egg in a medium bowl, and set aside. Combine the flour, garlic salt, smoked paprika, black pepper, cayenne, and poultry seasoning in a gallon size Ziploc bag. Seal the bag shut then squish the flour around to mix all the dry ingredients evenly. Working with one chicken cutlet at a time, add one cutlet to the flour mixture, seal the bag, and shake to coat. Remove the chicken cutlet, then dip in the buttermilk mixture. Return the chicken cutlet to the flour mixture, seal the bag, and shake to coat for a second time. Remove the chicken cutlet right to the fry basket. Keep the basket elevated while you do the next chicken cutlet. When ready, lower the fry basket into the preheated oil and deep fry until it reaches a deep golden brown. (Actual fry time will vary widely depending on many factors, including the temperature of your oil and the size of your fryer. Instead of giving you a time frame, I would encourage you to keep an eye on your chicken and look for that yummy golden brown color, and go by the manufacturer’s instructions.) Remove the chicken when done to a paper towel-lined plate to cool for a minute and dry. Keep warm.

3. Prepare hollandaise sauce according to package directions and keep warm.

4. Poach your eggs: Fill a 12-inch skillet with water and set over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, or to a heat that leaves the water at barely a simmer. Sprinkle some salt into the water so the eggs don’t stick. When the water is at a steady barely-simmer, crack one egg into a small bowl, taking care not to break the yolks. Gently tip the bowl into the simmering water, allowing some of the water to seep into the bowl, and slip the egg out of the bowl and into the water. Repeat with another egg on the other side of the skillet. Simmer the eggs for 3-4 minutes, or until the egg whites are set. With a slotted spoon, scoop one egg at a time out of the water and pat dry with paper towels.

5. Assemble! Place each waffle on a plate. Top each waffle with a fried chicken cutlet. As you bring poached eggs out of the water and pat them dry, gently place on top of each fried chicken cutlet. Then generously douse with hollandaise sauce, and top with chopped chives and smoked paprika, if desired.

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Slutty Grilled Cheese

Does anybody else out there know the term, “food hug”?

My friend and I use this term to describe the situations in which we are so stressed or angry or frazzled or crazy that we want to EAT ALL THE FOOD, ALL THE UNHEALTHY-FOR-ME FOODS, ALL THE SLUTTY FOOD because it’s the only thing that will make us feel better.  And we usually try to talk each other out of going off the rails like that – “don’t do it, you know you just need a food hug, it will go away”.  But sometimes you just need a food hug so bad….

And that’s how this grilled cheese was born.

For whatever reason, I was super stressed at work one day recently, and I wanted a food hug so bad… And I couldn’t get out for lunch so I had to eat whatever I had brought, which was decidedly NOT a food hug, so by the time I got home I was extra-jonesing for a food hug.  And we were just having boring old grilled cheese for dinner (hello, totally-packed-kitchen)…. until I decided to completely slut it up.

Slutty Grilled Cheese

Do you know what really knocks this grilled cheese out of the park?  Bread and butter pickles.  They just add a tang to all the richness and it somehow goes really well together.

So next time you need a food hug… you probably have a lot of these ingredients on hand… whip this one up and take a bite and feel better instantly.

Slutty Grilled Cheese
Makes 1 sandwich (yes, ONE)

Ingredients
2 slices sourdough bread, panini bread, or your favorite grilled cheese bread
2 slices yellow American cheese
2 slices Cooper Sharp American cheese
2 slices of bacon, cooked to your liking, cut in half
2 slices beefsteak tomato
6-8 slices bread & butter pickles
2 eggs, cooked sunny side up or over easy (runny yolk FTW)
1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise (optional, but why would you not?)
Butter for buttering the bread

Directions
1. Butter the bread as you would any other grilled cheese.

2. Heat a skillet over medium heat as you would if you were making grilled cheese like normal. Place both slices of bread, butter-side down, in the skillet. Place the slices of yellow American on top of one slice, and the slices of the Cooper Sharp on top of another slice. Cook gently, browning the bread, so that the cheese begins to melt. If necessary, cover the skillet so that the heat can circulate around the top of the cheese and help it melt. Be careful not to burn the bread. (Unless you like that, ew.)

3. In the meantime, in a separate small skillet, cook your eggs as desired. When done, turn the heat off and cover to keep warm until the sandwich is ready to assemble.

4. When the cheese on the bread slices looks sufficiently melty, slide both slices out onto a plate. Assemble in the following manner: swipe mayonnaise on top of the yellow American cheese. Lay bacon slices on top of the Cooper Sharp. Lay tomato slices on top of the bacon. Lay pickles on top of the tomatoes. Slide your eggs out of the skillet and on top of the pickles. Flip the slice of bread with the yellow American and mayo on top of the eggs. Hold tight, and slice in half. Now eat it!

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Eggs Benedict Fries

Eggs Benedict Fries.

Yes.  They are A Thing.

They should be A Thing on your menu for this week too.  Because seriously.  Why not?!  Life is short.  Eat the French fries, topped with creamy, tangy Hollandaise sauce, topped with a glorious poached egg, topped with smoked paprika and chopped chives.  Eat them.

Eggs Benedict Fries are what happen when it’s National French Fry Day, and you’re home with a sick kid, and you’re starving, and feeling creative.  Sorry not sorry folks.

Let’s talk about these fries for a second.  Crispy, oven-baked fries (so they are healthy!).  Hollandaise (need I say more?).  A poached egg (another healthy element!), but not just any poached egg – an egg with a gorgeous runny orange yolk, because nobody likes an anemically-yellow-snot-colored runny yolk.  I mean maybe that’s fine for you but trust me when I say you do NOT know what you are missing.  When you poke the yolk of a pasture-raised egg and let that orangey dream slip lusciously into all the cracks and crevices below it, you could convince yourself that no sauce is needed – that a runny orange yolk is all the sauce you need in this world – nature’s bounty – right there in a little orb of deliciousness.

(Where can you get pasture raised eggs?  For one thing, try your local farmer’s market, or try Whole Foods and pick up a carton of Vital Farms pasture-raised eggs.  Don’t even talk to me about the price until you eat one and taste it for yourself.  If you’re a runny yolk person like me, you will never go back to any other egg – not even organic, not even cage-free.  Pasture-raised will be the only way you’ll want to go for the rest of your life.  That orange yolk will make you want to build yourself a chicken coop for some chickens and give them a bunch of space to roam around so you can have your very own orange yolk on demand any dang time you want.)

Anyway.  Just make these.  Obvi this is not the kind of thing you want to eat for dinner a few times a week, though I wouldn’t judge you.  But hey, you home alone this weekend?  Want something slutty to much on while watching Netflix?  These are perfect for you.  Eat like no one is watching.  Even better when there is actually no one watching.  Cuz if they’re watching they’ll want a bite.  And you won’t want to share.  Trust me.

Eggs Benedict Fries

Eggs Benedict Fries

Ingredients
1/4 bag Ore-Ida Extra Crispy Golden Crinkles, or your favorite frozen fry, baked or otherwise cooked according to package directions
1 packet Knorr Hollandaise Sauce, prepared according to package directions
1 egg, poached*
Chopped chives and smoked paprika for garnish

Directions
1. Once everything is cooked, prepare in this order: Make a mountain of French fries on a plate. Ladle on some Hollandaise sauce. Top with your poached egg. Ladle on some more Hollandaise sauce, duh. Then top as desired with chopped chives and smoked paprika.

Notes
* If you need instructions on how to poach an egg, I wrote some pretty good directions here.

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Eggs Benedict Brunch Burgers

Hey ya’ll!  Sorry it’s been a while.  I’ve had some friends and family in town visiting which has been wonderful.  Bonus: I think I’ve eaten four cheeseburgers in two weeks – three of which happened in the last four days.  *insert googly-eyed emoji here*  I have eaten so much food, so much good food, in the past two weeks that I am ready to eat nothing but salad for like a month.  We all know that won’t happen though.  🙂

So yes I have eaten a ton of cheeseburgers lately.  Two of them are in my top 5 cheeseburgers of all time – #1 from Hillstone Midtown in NYC, and #2 from Blue Duck right here in Philadelphia.  Yesterday I made my chipotle blue cheese bacon burger.  But this….

This might be the sluttiest burger I have ever made in my entire life.

I mean… would ya look at this thing?

Eggs Benedict Brunch Burger

Look at it.

Eggs Benedict Brunch Burger

LOOK AT IT!

Eggs Benedict Brunch Burger

I don’t think I have ever been so proud of something in my entire life.  Eggs.  Benedict.  Brunch.  Burgers.

What we are talking about here is a homemade burger patty.  Topped with smoked gouda cheese.  And crispy salty bacon.  And a poached egg.  And hollandaise sauce.  And chives.  And smoked paprika.

Is there really anything more to say?  I mean come on.

You like slutty food.  That’s why you’re here.  That’s why you need to make this burger.

One disclaimer.  This is a knife-and-fork burger, fo sho.  I have seen my husband eat it with the top and bottom of a burger bun and it’s a hella crazy mess.  Go for it if you’d like but I’d prefer more, uh, protein, yeah, that’s it, than carbs.

If you do make this, post it to Instagram and tag me so I can see how it turned out for you!

Eggs Benedict Brunch Burgers

Ingredients
1/2 pound ground beef of choice*
2 slices smoked Gouda cheese
2 eggs
3 slices bacon
1 packet Knorr Hollandaise sauce, prepared according to package directions**
2 burger buns
Salt & pepper
Toppings***:
Green leaf lettuce, if desired
Tomato slices, if desired
Mayo, if desired
Chopped chives, if desired
Smoked paprika, if desired

Directions
1. Bake bacon: Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Cut bacon slices in half and lay side by side on prepared cookie sheet. Place into a cold oven and close the door. Turn the oven on to 400 degrees F and set the timer for 15 minutes. Don’t open the door! When the timer goes off, check the bacon. If it’s done to your liking, remove to a paper-towel lined plate and blot the grease off. If it needs more time, put it back into the oven in 1-2 minute increments until done to your liking. Set aside.

2. Make burgers: Prepare two beef patties and grill to desired doneness. Top with smoked Gouda and allow to melt. Keep warm.

3. Poach eggs: Fill a medium-sized skillet with water and bring to a steady simmer. Once simmering, add a teaspoon of salt. When the water is simmering steadily, crack an egg into a small bowl or custard cup, being careful not to break the yolk. Take the custard cup and slowly, carefully, gently dip it into the simmering water, allowing the water to swirl into the cup and around the egg. Slowly, carefully, and gently slide the egg out of the custard cup and into the water. Repeat with the other egg. Set the timer and remove in 3-4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and pat dry with a paper towel, and gently place into a small bowl or plate until the rest of the components are ready.

4. Assemble burger!!: To prepare the burger as shown: Place the bottom half of a burger bun onto a plate. Spread some mayonnaise onto the burger bun. Top with a leaf of green leaf lettuce and a slice of tomato. Put the burger on top. Then place three of the half-slices of bacon on top. Carefully top with the poached egg. Drown the thing in hollandaise sauce. And garnish with chopped chives and smoked paprika.

5. EAT.

NOTES:
* I recommend a fattier percentage of ground beef for a juicier burger – think 85/15, or 90/10.
** Shut up, there’s nothing wrong with taking a little help from the store.
*** Toppings are to prepare the burger as shown; feel free to add or remove toppings as you wish!

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Cinnamon Chip Banana Bread

Have you guys ever had cinnamon chips?

They are pretty amazing.  Every Christmas I make oatmeal cinnamon chip cookies and they are so delicious.  They’re my favorite cookie.  But I always buy too many bags of cinnamon chips.  I’m overly ambitious at Christmas-cookie-baking time.  At first I’m always like I AM NOT MAKING ALL THOSE DAMN COOKIES AGAIN THIS YEAR and them I’m like WELL MAYBE I’LL JUST MAKE ONE BATCH OF EACH COOKIE and then I’m like OKAY OKAY OKAY I’LL MAKE TWO BATCHES OF THE DROP COOKIES AND ONE BATCH OF EVERYTHING ELSE and then when it’s all over I’m always like MY NECK HURTS MY SHOULDER HURTS I AM NOT DOING THIS SHIT AGAIN NEXT YEAR.

And then I do it again next year.  Without fail.

But no matter what I always make two batches of oatmeal cinnamon chip cookies, but I buy extra cinnamon chips because again, overly ambitiousness.

So earlier this year I was wondering wtf I’m supposed to do with all these leftover cinnamon chips.  I thought they might be good in pancakes or waffles – and I have yet to try that.  In fact, hm, now that I’m typing this, banana pancakes with cinnamon chips… hmmmm…

Anyway.  I had this genius idea to put them in my banana bread and ahhhhhhhhh it was so yummy.  And so unto us, cinnamon chip banana bread was born.

I love banana bread sliced hot straight from the oven, slathered in butter.

Not quite like this.  Here I was being modest with the butter.  You know, for picture-taking purposes.  Besides.  It’s nobody’s business how much butter I eat.

So anyway.  If you’re looking for something to do with leftover cinnamon chips, or a new way to spice up your banana bread, give this a try.  What else do you use cinnamon chips for?  Cuz like I still have a bag left…

Cinnamon Chip Banana Bread

Ingredients
3 large, very ripe bananas, smashed with a fork
1/3 cup melted butter, cooled
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten,
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup cinnamon chips

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a loaf pan with baking spray so that the bread doesn’t stick.

2. In a large bowl, combine smashed bananas, butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla, and stir well. In another bowl, pour in the flour, baking soda, and salt. Use a whisk to stir the dry ingredients together to combine well and break up large lumps of flour. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and fold together with a spatula gently, about 3-4 folds. Pour in cinnamon chips (yes, even though it’s not completely mixed and combined). Fold another 3-4 times. Don’t overmix, but try not to leave any large lumps of flour.

3. Pour into prepared baking pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Check it around 50 minutes to see if it’s done. Nobody likes burnt banana bread. 🙂

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