Sunday, November 23, 2014

April's Sunday Brunch

The holidays are approaching, well more like they have arrived. I have not had much time to get into the spirit of it all. My life is consumed by writing papers, social work issues and mental health. Any situation I encounter these days, I immediately translate it into a social work, criminal justice or mental health context.

Like the other day, a friend told me my brother hadn't slept for a few days. My mind immediately thinks, oh my goodness, he must be having a manic episode. Totally normal train of thought. My concerns were immediately invalidated when I was informed a new expansion to World of Warcraft was recently released.


The next thing I thought was, he hasn't been awake for three days straight. That is unnatural. He has had to have taken some cat naps. Inmates, I intern at the Dane County Jail, are always complaining they haven't slept for days. It just isn't true. Your body needs sleep. You have not been awake for three days. You just haven't been. Trust me. Jail may not be fun, but you've slept. I digress.

Well, there you have it. These are the thoughts I have all day ever day. Plus a lot of worries about everything. I might catastrophize every situation. I might be a little neurotic, thanks Dad. I diagnosis myself with a different mental health disorder weekly. I have too many thoughts and not enough time to think them all through. I'm rambling. I apologize.


I'm going to school to be a licensed clinical social worker and sometimes I think I might be the one who needs to see a therapist. I blame it on school. I can't keep my thoughts straight. There is so much to do all day every day. There is an end in sight at least. 166 more days to be precise.

If you can't tell from my above ramblings, I haven't had a lot of time to stop and enjoy myself. Sure there have been pleasant moments here and there, but its immediately on to the next thing, which I worried about at least 20 times while I was supposed to be enjoying myself.

I look forward to the day where I can step back, process and appreciate my day to day life. I'm not sure when that will be. Sometimes I don't think it will ever happen. Growing up scares me. Is this the way my life will always be? Is it just a consequence of graduate school? Probably.

It is a balance, I suppose. I haven't figured out that balance yet. It scares me. There are too many things I want to enjoy and accomplish in life.


I've rambled, but this is what my life has been lately. A little glimpse into my head. It's a bit crazy in there, but I'm thankful to have a lot of supportive people and a very special cat in my life. They put up with me and make me smile. I'd be a lost puppy without them. Although being a cute, fun-loving, care-free puppy sounds pretty nice right now.

I've been working on some recipes for you all though. It is just a matter of finding the time to share them will you all! The other weekend I made some killer drinking chocolate and pickled beets, while my mom and man-friend split wood for the million fires I will be having this winter.


What are your plans for Thanksgiving? I'm going to the man-friend's family Thanksgiving and then to my own family's on Saturday. I'm making this pumpkin cheesecake, by request from my sister-in-law. Then I will be feeding everyone the sweet potato hash, I shared the other week for breakfast.

Speaking of puppies, Thanksgiving and my sister-in-law, there will be two dogs at my Thanksgiving. I'm so excited. My brother and sister-in-law's pit bull and our family friends border collie will be there. They are going to have the best time.

I'm going to have the best time watching my mom cook, drinking wine and playing with the pups. I hope your holiday is as magical as mine should be. Happy Thanksgiving, a little early everyone!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Baked Blintz

Just one more week until Thanksgiving is here!  Are you excited for the holiday season to officially be in full swing or what?!  While lunch or dinner are always the star of the show on Turkey Day, you can't let the family starve in the morning either.  Sweet Potato Hash with Caramelized Onions, Chorizo and Eggs or a French Toast Bake are great options to serve, as is this Baked Blintz!


Baked blintz is actually part of my family's Christmas Day tradition.  Every year on Christmas morning we would always go to my grandparent's house for brunch after opening our presents from Santa.  Baked blintz was always sure to be part of the spread on the table along with all other sorts of brunchy goodies.


Now, you may have never heard of blintz and have no idea what it is.  Traditionally, it is a type of thin pancake that you put a filling in and roll up, similar to a crepe.

To simplify the recipe for serving to a crowd it can also be easily converted to a dish bake.  A layer of the batter is spread on the bottom of a baking dish, coated with a cottage cheese mixture for the filling, and then topped of with another layer of that batter.  It ends up as a sort of egg souffle.  Serve with a side of sour cream and fruit preserves to lather on top as you please.


There's actually only three eggs in the dish so it's neither super eggy nor super cheesy since cottage cheese doesn't have an overwhelming amount of flavor.  The sour cream and fruit preserve toppings can really direct the flavor of the dish.  It's not bland in and of itself, I've enjoyed it plain plenty of times, the toppings just give it a flavor boost.  It's very similar to pancakes where they can still taste great plain, but when you load them up with chocolate chips and berries it just takes them to a new level!


If you've never had baked blintz before and you're looking for something new to try, I definitely suggest you give it a shot.  It's pretty simple and straightforward to prepare and can easily be doubled to make a larger batch.  Just a warning that if you aren't able to spread the top layer of batter all the way to the edges, it may lift up and curl a bit (as you can see it did in my pictures) but don't worry, it still tastes just as good!

Enjoy!
Kelsey


Ingredients:

Batter

  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk (skim or 2%)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 cup flour

Filling

  • 1 lb (16 oz) cottage cheese, creamed
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Fruit preserves or fresh berries and sour cream for topping.

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x9 (or similar sized) baking dish.
  2. To prepare batter, in a medium bowl mix butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs.  Blend in milk.  Add baking powder and flour and mix until combined.  Set aside.
  3. To prepare filling, in a medium bowl mix creamed cottage cheese and butter.  Beat in egg.  Mix in sour cream and salt.
  4. Spread half of batter in prepared baking dish.  Add all the filling.  Cover with other half of the batter.
  5. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until golden brown.
  6. Serve with fruit preserves or fresh berries and sour cream.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Kelsey's Sunday Brunch

Holy hornblowers winter rolled in with a vengeance here in Wisconsin this week and boy was I unprepared.  I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new winter coat that I ordered earlier in the week and I'm also on the hunt for some new winter boots.  I've been trying out some new recipes for healthier versions of comfort foods to help keep my warm like this Mexican Quinoa Chicken Casserole and this Sweet Potato, Chicken and Quinoa Soup.

We've had a couple days of on and off snow flurries and it's really starting to get me in the holiday spirit.  I've been scouting out the Black Friday ads as they've slowly been released this week.  Any other Black Friday shoppers out there?  Luckily, I'm marrying a guy who loves a good deal as much as I do so it's become a fun little tradition for us the past couple years.


Last weekend I went wedding dress shopping with my mom, my sisters and Emily and it was lots of fun!  I ended up finding the winner at Brandi's Bridal Galleria in New Glarus, WI and we enjoyed a champagne toast to cap off the day.  Hopefully now I will stop having dreams where I wake up on my wedding day and don't have a dress!

Since my life has been settling down a little more after moving and with wrapping up law school applications, I've had a little more time on my hands to get some reading in.  Recently I finished The Vacationers by Emma Straub and really enjoyed the lighter, fun read.  I'm currently reading #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso which is a memoir by the founder of Nasty Gal and is very inspirational for those with an entrepreneur spirit.


Speaking of which, I pulled the trigger and launched an Etsy shop called Midwestern Comfort to sell my knitted goods.  To start with I only have infinity scarves but I hope to add more products and color options soon.  Let me know if you have any requests!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

French Toast Bake


Another recipe for breakfast for a crowd is here again! I think this is the perfect time to give you all ideas on how to satisfy the breakfast cravings of your soon to be holiday guests. Holiday breakfasts are some of my favorite recipes. I just love how breakfast can be such a comfort food and what memories it brings back! Holiday breakfast is especially meaningful to me because every Christmas Eve morning just the immediate family gets together. Of course I love seeing all my uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents but there's something I just love about the small, intimate group of Christmas Eve morning.

For Christmas Eve morning, each of my sisters, myself and my parents prepare some sort of dish. Egg bakes are normally the hit of the table, but the spread also almost always includes fruit, monkey pull-apart bread, mimosas and a few desserts (because we don't get enough of those during the holidays). This year, I wanted to find a recipe that didn't fit the traditional ham and egg bake mold. So, off to search Pioneer Woman's website, because does Ree ever leave you disappointed? And then I found it!


This french toast bake is sweet and delicious. It closely resembles regular french toast but the nice thing about it is that you're not stuck in the kitchen flipping toast all morning. You can prepare it all the night before. The next day, all you do is pop it in the oven and voilĂ ! You have french toast for all to enjoy at the same time! Needless to say, I think this recipe will make it onto the Christmas Eve morning table.

Enjoy!
Brittany

Slightly adapted from Pioneer Woman

Ingredients
French Toast
1 loaf crusty french bread
8 eggs
2 c. milk
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Topping
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 stick cold butter

Instructions
1. Grease a 13x9 pan with butter.
2. Cut the french bread into cubes and add to pan.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs. Next, add the milk, cream, sugars, and vanilla extract. Pour over bread cubes.
4. Cover and place in refrigerator overnight. This step can be reduced or skipped all together.
5. For the topping, mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg in a bowl.
6. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and scatter into bowl. Using a fork or pastry cutter, work in the butter until the mixture resembles corse pebbles. This, too may be refrigerated in a bag or container. Makes things a bit easier the next morning :)
7. The next morning, or when you're all set to bake the dish, preheat oven to 350.
8. Sprinkle topping over the soaked bread.
9. Bake on the middle rack for 45-60minutes. 45 minutes will give you a nice bread pudding texture; 60 minutes will yield a crispy and firmer texture.
10. Enjoy with your favorite traditional french toast toppings: syrup, fruit, powdered sugar, etc!


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Brittany's Sunday Brunch

Good morning brunchers! I hope you are reading this under a snuggly soft blanket with coffee and a smile. Because that is how I wrote this! Lately, the littlest things, which sometimes to me seem quite large, have been filling my heart with happiness.

First of all, a few of my latest posts have been published on Foodgawker and Tastespotting! Woohoo! Not always having the most confidence in my food photos and camera, a little reassurance like a published photo on Foodgawks goes a long way. I don't have a professional camera and I have no education in photography so I'd say I'm doing pretty well for myself. I still have a lot of practicing to do (thank you readers for being so patient with me). And maybe someday I'll get a fancy camera to help...but a wedding to pay for comes first.


Speaking of wedding, I'm getting all sorts of excited for that day! Save the dates are sealed and sent! What a difference I feel now that those babies are out. It's like it's finally official now that the guest list knows about it. We also finalized our tasting date and menu. Oh boy. I'm super excited to try out the new menu featured at Steenbock's on Orchard. Also, my dress got moved to Madison! Oh man, it's so hard not to run to our storage unit 5 steps away and try it on. It's a shame I only get to wear that beauty for one day!

What else has me doing the happy dance? Well, I'm a tad ashamed to say it but...I listened to some Michael Buble Christmas songs. I waited until after Halloween and I really wasn't going to but it just happened. And now it's hard to shut it off. But, I'm I really the only one to have Christmas songs playing already? I bet others out there are just as excited for the holidays as me. Anyone have any good Thanksgiving recipes to share? Normally, we each bring a side or dessert and my parents supply the bird. This year, I want to try something new. Here are a few recipes I'm contemplating
I think I'm really feeling a pie...or maybe a healthy side (I think it's the guilt I felt when all I wanted was to devour that peanut butter pie)
Looking for Thanksgiving inspiration on Badger Kitchen? Check these out: Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Cranberries, Apple Crisp Pie, Cranberry Upside-down Cake, Braised Carrots


Enjoy your Sunday, thanks for stopping by!
- Brittany

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