Breakfast in Bread

Sourdough bread stuffed with ham, eggs and colorful veggies.

You will need:

  • 1 sourdough bread round
  • 3 slices ham, cubed
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 small tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 6 mushrooms, sliced
  • 10 black olives, sliced
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheese (sharp cheddar or gruyere)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut a circle in the top of the sourdough round, remove all the bread from the inside, creating a empty bowl. Cover the bottom of the bread bowl with ham. Scramble the eggs until they are lumpy and slightly wet. Scoop the eggs on top of the ham.

Layer the veggies on top of the eggs, tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms and olives. Top with cheese and place the bread lib back on the bowl. Wrap the sourdough tightly in foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.


Sweet Fire Chicken (copycat recipe)

Anyone who knows me would be shocked to know that I like a handful of fast food items. The spicy chicken sandwich at Popeye’s is amazing. Literal perfection. Now Panda Express offers more veggies than most places so it’s my first choice for fast food. I love that I can get super greens instead of rice. But let’s talk about this chicken. It’s my daughters favorite and I’ve pinched a few bites off her plate. It is super yummy but the restaurant version lacks veggies.

You will need:

  • 4 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2-1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup flour (or tapioca starch)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 bottle of sweet Asian chili sauce
  • 3 red bell peppers, cut into 1-2 inch chunks
  • 1 white onion, quartered
  • 1 can pineapple chunks, drained

Add 3 tablespoons of oil to a large deep frying pan. Heat the oil until it is shimmering. Add the bell peppers and onions. Cook until tender-crisp. You want them to have a bit of bite.

Set the veggies aside.

Add 1/2 cup oil to the pan and heat on high. Reduce heat slightly once the oil is hot. Now dredge the chicken in flour, then eggs and then flour. Place the chicken in the oil and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Continue until chicken is no longer pink. Set the chicken on a tray lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.

In the same pan add two cups of sweet chili sauce over medium heat. Add the drained can of pineapples, onion and bell peppers. Stir until well coated and warm.

Add the chicken and stir until coated. Serve over rice.


Minestrone Soup

I should call this low calories and super quick minestrone soup! It is only 100 calories a cup and makes a great lunch. It is so light that you can also serve it with dinner in lieu of a salad. It is packed with veggies which makes it extra flavorful.

The perfect soup for lunch.

You will need:

  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped carrots
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 box frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 6 minced garlic cloves
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2- 28 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can navy beans, drained
  • 1 cup small pasta (small shells or orzo)

In a large dutch oven heat the olive oil and saute the carrots, celery and onions. Add the salt, Italian seasoning and garlic. Saute for about 10 minutes. Vegetables should be slightly tender.

Add the chicken broth and crushed tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Add the frozen spinach. It can be completely frozen it will quickly thaw and add a bit of water to the soup.

Simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the pasta and can of beans. Mix well and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the pasta is cooked.

If you want to add more flavor, add fresh basil, freshly ground black pepper and oregano.


Tostones (Fried Plantains)

A few years ago a dear friend from Puerto Rico showed me how to make these. It is truly a special dish that takes some time to make but it is worth it. They are a great appetizer or side dish. I love sharing these with friends and family. The following recipe serves 4-6 people.

You will need:

  • 8 Plantains (get them green)
  • Canola Oil about 80-100 ounces
  • Adobo Seasoning

You want the plantains to look like this.

Notice these are beginning to turn yellow. Do not buy the yellow ones they will be sweet and too soft.

Cut of the ends of the plantains. Run the knife down the seam of the plantain and then peel it off. Cut them into cubes. Each plantains will be 5-6 chunks.

Cut into 2 inch chunks.

Pour all the oil into a Dutch oven and heat on high. While the oil is heating cover a baking sheet with paper towels. Using tongs gently place 1/3 of the plantains in the oil. When they turn golden brown and are floating the in the oil place them on the paper towels. Repeat with the rest of the plantains.

Now it’s time to smash the plantains. Fold a piece of foil into a rectangle and bend it in half to make a square. Place on plantain inside the foil rectangle. Use a small plate to smash the plantain and then place it back on the paper towel. See video below.

Now fry the smashed plantains in three batches. Fry them until they are crisp and golden brown. Place them on the paper towel and cover them with adobo spice. Sprinkle adobo spice on while hot so it sticks to the plantains.

The plantains are delicious dipped in salsa. You can also make a creamy adobo sauce for dipping. Mix 1/4 cup ketchup, 1/4 cup mayonnaise and 1 teaspoon adobo spice. Mix well and serve with the tostones. My family loves the dipping sauce and I usually double it.


Baked Grits Casserole

I was never a fan of grits until I had them baked. This is the ultimate comfort food. It goes great with spicy pork chops or spicy shrimp. It is a great dish to make and share for a potluck. This recipe is meant to be shared or expect some leftovers. If you only want 4-5 servings cut the recipe in half.

Grits can be very bland if you make them with water. It is important to use chicken or vegetable broth. It is also important to salt and pepper them well. Not a sprinkle but a minimum of 1/2 teaspoon of each. The eggs, butter, milk and cheese add lots of flavor and hold the casserole together. I have had grits that are runny or soup like, these are not like that at all.

You will need:

  • 2 cups quick cook grits
  • 6 cups chicken broth (do not use water)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon each-salt/pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 full cups of grated or cubed cheese (I used a mixture of sharp cheddar and aged white cheddar)

Heat oven to 350. Grease a 9 x 13 pan and set aside (use a 8 x 8 if reducing the recipe).

In a large deep pan heat the chicken broth until boiling. Reduce heat and add grits. Stir for 2 minutes until it thickens. It should be at a slow simmer. Add the salt, pepper and garlic powder.

In a large measuring cup pour the milk and beat in the eggs. Slowly pour this mixture into the grits and mix well.

Add the stick of butter to the grits and stir until melted.

Add the cheese and stir until melted.

Pour the grits into the prepared pan.

Bake for 40-50 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Serve warm.


Sausage Gravy & Biscuits

Is there anything more southern than biscuits and gravy? Honestly there is not a better comfort food. Now I have been fortunate to have many amazing southern cooks in my family so I have had this dish in many kitchens. This version is a combination my grandfather, mother and Aunt Sheila recipes.

Now you can make your own biscuits but you can also use Grands Buttermilk biscuits or a frozen version. You want to use a good crumbly biscuit not a flaky biscuit.

You will need:

  • 1 pound breakfast sausage
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3-4 cups milk (whole milk or 2%)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon season salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper (more to taste)

Heat a deep skillet over medium high heat. Crumble and cook the breakfast sausage until it is no longer pink. Sprinkle the flour over the sausage and mix well.

Add the spices and 3 and 1/2 cups milk. Bring to a simmer and stir constantly. Reduce heat but continue to simmer. It will thicken within a few minutes. If you want it really thick do not add any more milk. Simmer and stir for 20 more minutes. If you want it a bit thinner add 1/2 cup milk.

Serve over hot buttermilk biscuits.


Kung Pao Chicken

One of my favorite take out meals. This is a healthier version of traditional take out Kung Pao Chicken. I added lots of vegetables and used boneless skinless chicken. I also didn’t fry the chicken but instead used my crock-pot to slow cook the chicken and truly infuse the flavor.

You will need:

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 large zucchini cut into thick slices (leave the skin on)
  • 2 red bell peppers cut into 1 inch slices
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (use 1/2 teaspoon is you want it mildly spicy)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • Steamed rice or Cauliflower rice for serving

Place the chicken and vegetables in crock-pot. Mix sauce in a small bowl and pour over chicken and vegetables.

Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours.

Serve over rice.


Banana Bread

This banana bread is just sweet enough to be a dessert. Enjoy with your favorite cup of tea.

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 Graham Crackers, crumbled
  • 1/2 whole wheat flour or coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3-4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 5 loaf pan with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl mix the bananas, eggs, coconut milk, oil, brown sugar and vanilla extract.

Add the cinnamon, salt and baking soda.

Add the graham cracker crumbs and flour. Mix well.

Pour into the greased loaf pan.

Bake for 50-60 minutes.


Savory Ham and Egg Bake

Simple and savory what more could you want for breakfast.

You will need:

  • 2 cups Italian style croutons
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into thin slices
  • 4 slices ham or Canadian bacon
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (I used Gruyere and Swiss)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 8 x 8 inch pan with cooking spray. Pour the croutons in the pan and top with the thin slices of butter.

Place the 4 pieces of ham on top and press the middle down slightly to make a bowl shape. It doesn’t have to be deep.

Carefully crack one egg on each slice of ham. Sprinkle a dash of salt and pepper on each egg.

Top with cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes. If you want the eggs runny, remove the dish in 15 minutes. 20 minutes if you want them firm.

Top with fresh parsley and serve.


Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

These are not too sweet and perfect with a cup of tea.

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cups chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix all the ingredients except the flour. Slowly add the flour 1/2 cup at a time.

Grease 12 muffin cups. Fill 3/4 full and bake for 17-20 minutes.