Parsnip, Aged Cheddar and Chard Frittata

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“Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.”
― John Lennon

I was looking at some material online and I came across this quote. It reminded me of this past few weeks and made me smile.

I have been having hard time, lately, and a few of my close friends and family have rallied around to help me through and make sure that I am okay. The great thing about friendship is that a good day with a close friend can have great healing powers.

I spent yesterday with a girlfriend helping her choose a dress for her son’s upcoming wedding. We wandered for hours from shop to shop looking for the exact style and colour. We found a wonderful gown for her to wear and then celebrated over a long lunch on a patio while watching the world go by.

My friend did not need me to help her find the perfect dress, but instead, she knew that having a project would stop me from feeling sorry for myself. I started my day with a mission of helping her. By focusing on someone else’s needs, I forgot my own troubles and had a fun day. It was about the friendship, not the shopping.

I know that keeping busy is good therapy. Whenever I am stressed, I throw myself into a project and the next thing I know is that I am content, again. Maybe it is that sense of accomplishment when you create something that you enjoy.

I also know that good friends are for a lifetime.

I cannot see all of my friends as often as I would like so I am hoping that each of them will make this recipe for their families and friends so we can all celebrate life together. I hope to hear the stories about how you chose to make it and how you enjoyed the flavours.

I am including all of my online friends in this invitation as well. The makes a wonderful brunch for a lazy Sunday either at home or at the cottage.

I hope you enjoy it!

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Parsnip, Aged Cheddar and Chard Frittata

Ingredients:

1 onion, finely diced
1 tbsp. (15 mL) olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped ham
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
1 bunch of rainbow chard, drained well, leaves removed from stems and chopped
1 red pepper, finely diced
8 eggs
1 cup (250 mL) 18% cooking cream
2 tbsp. (30 mL) Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. (30 mL) fresh thyme, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup (175 mL) Canadian Aged Cheddar, grated

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
In an oven-safe, non-stick pan over medium heat, sauté onion in olive oil until softened.
Add the ham, garlic and parsnips, and cook until parsnips soften.
Add the chopped chard leaves and red pepper. Stir to evenly combine and set aside.

Meanwhile, whisk eggs, cream, Dijon mustard and fresh herbs in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Lower the heat, pour egg mixture over vegetables and cook for a few minutes. Sprinkle Cheddar over the top and keep cooking on low heat until edges are just set.

Transfer to oven and cook until centre is set, about 10 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, invert onto serving platter and serve.

Cooks Note: You can omit the ham and make this a delicious vegetarian frittata.

Recipe adapted from http://www.dairygoodness.ca

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Salami, Bacon and Spinach Breakfast Hash

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It is time to say good-bye to a dear friend, my wonderful bike Victoria. I bought her 2 years ago so I could get back into cycling after many years. She was a second-hand bike listed on Craigslist that was built from some very oddly matched components. Quite honestly, she is a Frankenbike!

Did I just say that?

The truth is, I have really enjoyed spending time with her riding the bike paths of our city. She has taught me that no matter how out of shape and tired you may feel, you can still get out and have fun. There is nothing like that feeling when you catch a breeze in your hair or when you coast down a hill feeling as though life is filled with laughter. It is a very childlike feeling. Victoria and I shared many days filled with fun and challenging rides, picnics and adventures.

So why am I saying so long to Victoria? I am ashamed to say that I have cheated on her by purchasing Victoria 2. I felt I had to move on. I needed more bells and whistles and speed. I was enticed by a newer model. Oh My!

Thankfully, my oldest daughter has offered to give Victoria a loving home. She is also hoping to get back into cycling and was looking for a nice bike. Now when she and I go for brunch in the neighbourhood we can ride our bikes and meet up at a local bistro.

If there is one meal that I love, it is Brunch! Our neighbourhood hosts a number of quaint bistros and cafes that specialize in all day breakfast or wonderful weekend brunch. Some of these cafes are so popular, they are lined up all day on Sunday.

Often, I will make something delicious for brunch at home. I recently saw Giada De Laurentis make this Sausage, Bacon and Spinach Breakfast Hash on TV and decided it looked good enough to try. It turns out to be a hearty recipe that works well for a group of 3-4.

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Salami, Bacon and Spinach Breakfast Hash

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

8 oz. bacon (5 to 6 slices), cut into ½-inch pieces
2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
¾ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into ½-inch pieces
3 cups baby spinach leaves
5 oz. dry salami, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
zest of ½ medium orange
4 large eggs, at room temperature

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Directions

Cook the bacon over medium-high heat in a 12-inch nonstick skillet, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the bacon using a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Add the potatoes, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to the pan juices. Cook, stirring frequently, until brown and crisp, about 25 minutes. Remove the potatoes using a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Add the oil, onion, bell pepper, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach, salami, nutmeg, orange zest, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Cook until the spinach is wilted, about 4 minutes. Stir in the bacon and potatoes.

Make 4 indentations in the hash and break an egg into each. Cook until the eggs are cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes.

Recipe from Giada De Laurentis

Sausage and Broccolini Frittata

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What is it about the cooler weather that makes us crave comfort food? I have worked so hard to get in shape for the past 2 years but this last month I have been craving all of the foods that are bad for me. I find myself dreaming of pumpkin pie smothered in whipped cream and heavy foods like burgers and fries. I am trying very hard to ignore my cravings and get back on track.

This weekend I plan to go ice skating in order to train for skating the Rideau Canal again this year. Being outdoors and having fun makes the long, cold winter much easier to live with.

When I am not out exercising I try to take some time to relax on weekends. Usually, I am cooking, reading, photographing, writing and spending time with my close friends and family.

I also love having Sunday Brunch. I love getting up out of bed a little later than usual and going out for eggs and lattes. I also love making brunch at home. It is a great way of entertaining friends without too much fuss.

Frittatas are always a hit at brunch and they are relatively easy to make. This one is light and fluffy yet still packed with the rich flavour of the sausage and cheese.

Sausage and Broccolini Frittata

Ingredients:

12 large eggs
½ cup whole milk
¾ cup grated cheddar, divided
Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
½ medium onion, chopped
½ lbs. fresh Italian sausage links, casings removed
1 bunch broccolini, coarsely chopped

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Directions:

Preheat broiler. Whisk eggs and milk in a medium bowl. Mix in ½ cup cheddar; season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet, preferably cast-iron, over medium heat. Add onion and sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and sausage is brown, 6–8 minutes. Add broccolini; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8–10 minutes longer.

Reduce heat to low and pour reserved egg mixture over vegetables. Cook, shaking pan occasionally, until edges are just set, 10–12 minutes. Top frittata with remaining ¼ cup cheddar; broil until top is golden brown and center is set, about 4 minutes longer.

Cut frittata into wedges and serve warm or room temperature.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine-October 2013

Cinnamon Apple Stuffed French Toast

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What a beautiful Sunday! The sun is shining, there is  cool breeze wafting through the window and I am very excited! Sunday is my favorite day of the week.

I am going to Vancouver Island this week. My mind is filled with dreams of the fun that we are going to have. We plan to do some sea kayaking and go hiking and exploring wonderful places on the island.

One thing I love about traveling is the planning part of the trip. I spend time trying to find the perfect place to stay, the best airfare, and the most interesting things to see. Half the fun of traveling is the planning.

Today I will choose the clothes that I want to take and decide what types of photos I want to shoot while I am there. Then I will choose the camera lenses to take for those types of shots. My problem is trying to get everything I need into my bags while staying within the airline’s weight allowances.

With all of the planning one never knows for sure that it will all work out. I only hope that everyone has a good time. Once the trip is planned and we are on our way the best thing to do is relax. There may be delays and unexpected mix ups, but we will be on vacation and having fun.

I will post a blog about my trip when I get back, so stay tuned.

Another thing I love to do on Sundays is to linger over a delicious brunch, relaxing with friends, and enjoying great conversation. One of my favorite brunch recipes is this Cinnamon Apple Stuffed French Toast. It works best if you slice french bread, thickly so you can make a slit for the stuffing.

This recipe would be great for a cottage or a camping breakfast.

Cinnamon Apple Stuffed French Toast

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
Cinnamon Apple Filling (see below)
4 slices diagonally cut French bread (about 1 inch thick)
½ cup fat free milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 tbsp. powdered sugar

Directions:
Prepare Cinnamon Apple Filling.
Cut a horizontal slit through the side of each bread slice to form a pocket. Stuff 3 tbsp. apple filling into each pocket.
Place milk, vanilla, and egg in a shallow dish; stir with a whisk until blended. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
Dip each side of stuffed bread in egg mixture to coat. Add stuffed bread to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Top evenly with remaining filling.

Cinnamon Apple Filling:

Ingredients:
2 tbsp. butter
2 cups chopped unpeeled Gala apple
¼ cup brown sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon

Directions:
Melt butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining ingredients; sauté 3 minutes or until apples are golden.

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Recipe from Cooking Light 300 calorie main dishes

Poppy Seed Crêpes with Lemon Ricotta and Asparagus

A crêpe is a very thin, cooked pancake usually made from wheat flour. The word, like the pancake itself, is of French origin, deriving from the Latin crispa, meaning “curled.” Crêpes originate from the Brittany region in the northwest of France although crêperies can be found on many street corners in Paris. Whenever I am in Paris I enjoy a Crêpe Chantilly made with sugar and whipped cream.

I remember when they became popular in North America in the early 1970s. Julia Child had begun her quest to of teach American housewives to cook French food. When her books and TV shows came to Canada, Canadian housewives were very excited about trying out new and interesting recipes. At that time Crêpes Suzette was considered an elegant dessert to serve at a dinner party. I remember my mother making them for our guests. Since then we have tried numerous different fillings and flavours.

In Canada there are numerous crêperies, especially in the province of Quebec where the cuisine has been influenced by the French Canadian culture. We eat crêpes at any type of meal be it breakfast, lunch, dinner or as a dessert.

This recipe has a fresh, creamy taste with the lemon ricotta and would be perfect for a brunch or lunch dish.

Poppy Seed Crêpes with Lemon Ricotta and Asparagus

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

4 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup water
¼ cup melted butter
1 tbsp. sugar
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. poppy seeds

Ricotta filling:

500g ricotta cheese
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. finely grated lemon rind
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp. ground black pepper
¼ tsp. salt
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed to 5 inch pieces
1 cup fresh basil leaves

Directions:

Crêpe Batter

In a blender, combine eggs, milk, warm butter, sugar and salt. blend until smooth.  Add flour and blend until smooth, scraping down side of blender if needed.

Once smooth, pour batter into a bowl and stir in poppy seed; cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Ricotta Filling

In a bowl, stir together ricotta, olive oil, lemon rind, nutmeg, pepper and salt until combined, set aside.

Steam or boil asparagus for about 4 minutes or until tender. Immediately rinse in cold water until chilled; set aside.

To make crêpes, heat a lightly greased 6-inch non-stick pan over medium heat. Add ¼ cup of the batter to pan and swirl pan to coat the base. Cook for about 1 minute or until edges are very lightly golden and surface of crêpe seams dry. Flip crêpe and cook second side for another 30 seconds. Repeat until all of the crêpes are cooked, lightly greasing the pan as needed.

To assemble crêpes, spread 1 tbsp. of the ricotta mixture on the bottom half of each crêpe. Place one piece of asparagus and 2 basil leaves in the middle of the top half of the crêpe with the top peeking out. Fold the crêpe up and over the asparagus then fold in half. Roll this piece in cigar style. Continue with remaining crêpes and serve at room temperature.

Recipe from Longos Experience Magazine

Ricotta Frittata

The further we get into winter the more I crave sunshine, sailing and summer salads.  I have been making some dishes with the seasonal ingredients that are available at my local markets which is helping me to continue on this journey of eating healthier and living well.

Sundays present a different kind of challenge. That is the day when I like to relax, write and spend quality time with family and friends.  On days like this I need to be inspired with new and delicious recipes. Without inspiration I will snack and munch my way through the day with an endless stream of sugary carbs.

This Ricotta Frittata makes a lovely Sunday brunch or lunch. The texture is light and fluffy with little clouds of ricotta cheese floating across the eggs. Sprinkle with fresh chives and you have a tasty treat to start your day.

Ricotta Frittata

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

3 tbsp. olive oil
6 eggs
½ c. onions, finely chopped
3 tbsp. olive oil
¾ c. ricotta cheese
3 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp. fresh chives, chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Coat the bottom of a large ovenproof skillet with the olive oil. Add the onions, and salt and pepper to taste and sauté over medium heat until the onions are translucent, 5 to 7 minutes.

In a bowl combine the eggs, ricotta, and Parmesan and stir until smooth.

Add the egg mixture to the sautéed onions and stir. Sprinkle with chives. Cook the frittata on the stovetop until the eggs start to set, then transfer the skillet to the oven.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until firm.

Turn the frittata out of the pan onto a large serving plate. Drizzle with olive oil if desired and serve immediately.

Original Recipe from Epicurious.com