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!




  • 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


  • 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.

  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.


Slightly adapted from Pioneer Woman

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

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

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

And don't forget to like us on Facebook!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Sweet Potato Hash with Carmalized Onions, Chorizo and Eggs

Its about that time to start thinking about the holidays and what you are going to be making for holiday dinners and gatherings! Its the best time of year. I wish I had a bit more time to think and plan these things, but honestly school has really gotten the best of me.

My mom doesn't know it yet, but Thanksgiving dinner is all hers this year. Usually I claim things. By things I mean every single holiday that calls for a meal. What I will lay claim to is breakfast the morning after!

This here hash is the perfect make-ahead breakfast for a crowd. Its more creative than your standard egg bake too. Really wow your guests. I actually made this on a Thursday night and then cooked 2/3 of it on Sunday morning for friends that were visiting.

Who doesn't love a runny eggs?! Crazy people. No offense, but seriously! I will never understand how you couldn't like a runny egg yolk. It acts like a magical dressing for whatever it sits on top of. Delicious, silky, greatness. Food porn at its finest.

For those who prefer a hard cooked egg, don't worry. Your eggs can take a trip into the oven for an extra five minutes. After five minutes, take out the hash and add the rest of the eggs for another 10 minutes.

The meat and potatoes are also very flexible. I think a nice breakfast sausage, with sweet or russet potatoes would be delicious, maybe will a little bacon and maple syrup. For a more smoky take you could use andouille sausage.

The chorizo that I used here makes your kitchen smell divine. A sort of sweet, peppery and smoky party for your nose. I think it is the paprika, which might be my newest spice obsession.  I got my chorizo at Whole Foods, if you can't find it you could substitute any other sausage you see fit.

The preparation of the hash is a bit labor intensive but totally worth it! Reheating the hash with the eggs is what really makes the hash special. Its bottom layer gets super crunchy, but the top layer of taters are still soft. Sweet, with a little hint of spice. I think chorizo and sweet potatoes were made for eachother.

Because I only served 2/3 of it to my friends, I cooked up the rest for these here photos and ate it for lunch the next two days. If you don't have a huge crowd to feed, still make the whole batch and treat yourself throughout the week to a special breakfast.

You, you're guests and bellies will not regret this. It is a must make for the upcoming holiday season and will make your house smell delicious!


Adapted from The Kitchn
Serves 5-8
for the hash:
2 large onions, thinly sliced into half-moons
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt
1 1/4 pound fresh chorizo

3 pounds sweet potatoes, about 3 large potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 large garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste if necessary
Freshly ground black pepper

To serve:
Large eggs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the hash:
Heat the oven to 450°F. Place the sausage in a large skillet and brown over medium-high heat, chopping it up into fine crumbles with a spatula. Cook the sausage for about 10 minutes, or until it is browned and beginning to crisp. Drain the sausage, reserving 1 tablespoon fat and set aside, in a large bowl (large enough that you can mix everything together before it goes onto a baking sheet and into the oven).

While the sausage cooks, peel the onions and cut them in half lengthwise, then cut them into thin half-moons. Cut the half-moons in half. In the same skillet, melt the butter with the drippings, over medium-high heat. When it foams up add the onions and sprinkle lightly with salt. (Don't worry if they are crammed into the pan; they will rapidly cook down.) Lower the heat slightly and cook the onions for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, and lowering the heat if they seem to be burning. Cook them until they are dark brown.

While the onions are cooking, chop the unpeeled sweet potatoes into cubes that are about 1/2-inch to a side. Finely mince the garlic and toss it in a large bowl with the sweet potatoes and sausage. Toss with the olive oil, kosher salt, and a generous helping of black pepper.

When the onions are dark brown, stir these into the sweet potatoes as well. Line a large baking sheet with foil or parchment paper, and spread out the sweet potatoes evenly, depending on the size of you baking sheets you may need to use two. Roast the sweet potatoes for 30 to 45 minutes (roasting time depends on the size and uniformity of the sweet potato chunks, as well as the variety of sweet potato you buy) or until they are soft and browned.

Refrigerate the cooled hash for up to 5 days.

To serve:
Heat the oven to 425°F. Spread a relatively thin layer of the (already cooked) sweet potato hash in a baking dish, such as a cast iron skillet or a 9x13-inch baking dish (I've done it with both). You can also bake in individual ramekins. Make small wells in the sweet potatoes and crack in large eggs. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes for a runny yolk and 15 to 20 minutes for a hard cooked egg. (Test the eggs by prodding them with a fork to check the firmness of the white and the yolk; baked eggs are deceptive in that the white often looks much less cooked than it really is.)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

April's Sunday Brunch

I went to Cali to visit some friends who moved to the Sacramento area for a job. They pretty much live in a magical garden paradise, with fruit trees all around their neighborhood free for the picking! Amazing! The persimmons weren't actually ripe, but boy they sure are pretty!

We went to Muir woods and saw some redwoods. I've always wanted to see them. Next time it will be Yosemite and some Sequoias. Because they are massive and majestic. At least I imagine them to be that way.

We went to San Fran and ate some expensive toast and coconut. Wandered around down to the beach. Drank some beer. Ate some tacos and watch the Giants win some baseball. We finished the day off with an ice cream cookie sandwich. It must be a thing in California. Expensive toast and ice cream cookie sandwiches. It is like the fro-yo craze, but with more carbs.

On our way home from San Fran, we tuned into NPR and started listening to Serial. It is actually a podcast you can listen to online. What is it about you ask? Basically a real life murder mystery. Is the guy in prison, guilty like the court determined or innocent? This is totally right up my alley too.

In case you didn't know, I'm getting my social work masters and intend to work with a criminal population in some capacity or another. I think its a fascinating population and system in so many ways. You should listen to the podcast. Kelsey also listens to it too and is totally into it.

Since Cali, life has pretty much been all about school, with a few fun breaks here and there. It is endless. Graduation can't come soon enough. Maybe a 40 hour a week job will be worse? Only time will tell and I think not.

My friend Anna and her boy came to visit for the badger game the other weekend. It was amazing weather. It has been such a mild October. Hopefully that bodes well for winter. Doubtful. The almanac agrees.

I went to a demo cooking class at the Madison Club with my mother. It was a lot of fun and delicious!  It was a Spanish tapas theme. There were twice friend potatoes with a paprika tomato reduction sauce and aioli. The main attraction though was the big old octopus!

It was boiled for a whopping 90 minutes! Crazy. I'd always imagined it would be overcooked if you cooked it that long. It isn't. It was buttery and delicious.


My boyfriend and I watched The Rocky Horror Picture Show, ate macaroni and cheese with hotdogs and relieved my middle school days. What were my parents thinking? I turned out okay though. He has never seen it before and I've watched it about a million times.  

I danced and sang a lot. It was a wonderful way to spend Halloween, for me anyways. He probably thinks I'm a nutcase now. Did you do anything fun for Halloween?



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