Spring Eggs Benedict

I make it a point to not cook eggs benedict all the time because let’s be real, it’s a lot of work. I mean poaching eggs and making hollandaise over a double boiler? That’s some intense skills right there that I don’t always have the strength or the energy to create such a fancy dish. I wish I could do it because I think a brunch meal with a big plate of eggs benedict is always the icing on the morning cake. It’s the dish I usually get when I go to a restaurant for breakfast or brunch, mainly because I like to order things I don’t make at home on a regular basis. I’ll usually eat that and wash it down with a few glasses of mimosas. I’ve never turned my nose down to bottomless mimosas. Whoever came up with that concept deserves a holiday named after them. Anyhow, I normally save this dish for a special occasion. I get away with only making it once a year for my family by saying something like, “We’ll all appreciate it more when we have it once in a blue moon. If I made it all the time, we’d take it for granted.” If you think about it, I’m doing everyone a favor really. All I’m doing is making sure that no one gets tired or bored of the dish. That’s very nice of me. 

I think I’ve mentioned once or twice (definitely in this Fish and Chips post) that one of my sisters is extremely picky. Like doesn’t like mac and cheese because it’s too cheesy and hates peanut butter because it smells funky to her kind of picky. A weird alien pickiness that I’m glad I didn’t genetically inherit. Sorry Nick, but it’s true. Even with her crazy likes and dislikes, she happens to love eggs benedict and gave this one two thumbs way up. Now, this is really saying something. If it passed my sister’s taste test, the same sister who hates pie crust, then anyone and everyone will enjoy this dish. You can trust me on that. 

This is day three of our Easter Brunch Bonanza post and we’re just getting to the really good stuff. Don’t get me wrong, Roasted Asparagus and Prosciutto Croissants and Cucumber and Strawberry Salad are great ways to start a brunch, but the real fun is in the entrée and dessert. Don’t even get me started on the cocktail. Come back tomorrow and Friday for the remaining recipes, you don’t want to miss them! I’ll tell you what else you don’t want to miss, these Spring Eggs Benedict. They’re calling out your name. Can you hear them? I can. 

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Roasted Asparagus and Prosciutto Croissants

I really like croissants. Who doesn’t? I find myself never buying croissants at the grocery store or bakery because I’ll never not just have one. I’ll end up eating about ten while standing over the sink losing all dignity and sense of worth, and later on I’ll feel bad about the entire situation. Never enough to not eat again for the rest of the day or anything like that. Nothing that extreme. I’ve had this idea stuck in my mind though, more like a fantasy, where I make fresh croissants at home and they’re absolutely perfect and I get a standing ovation with a never ending applause from an invisible audience. That idea is quickly abandoned and the feeling of excitement quickly vanishes when I realize that making homemade croissant pastry dough is sort of hassle and quite time consuming. I’m no Martha Stewart and therefore I will not spend all day in the kitchen for anything. Nothing is that worth it. Maybe french fries, but those are quick to make. Although, the sound of spending all day in the kitchen making and eating fried potatoes does sound like the best day in the world. 

Since I do have a life that doesn’t revolve around me folding cold butter into dough all day long and letting it rest for various amounts of time during the day, I’ve always cheated my way through “homemade” croissants. Have I talked to you guys about my love for frozen puff pastry yet? It’s the greatest thing ever invented and I use it all the time, especially when I want homemade chocolate croissants super fast without all of the work. Let’s get one thing straight, I am aware that it’s not the same thing as a pastry dough and it doesn’t get as flaky as traditional croissants, but you know I have to tell you, it’s pretty darn close and it gets the job done. Now I’m not trying to deter you from making traditional croissants at home, if you have that time and energy, then go for it! If you’re like me, however, and don’t have the patience, then get yourself over to a grocery store ASAP and pay the frozen food aisle a visit. While you’re there do yourself and everyone around you a favor and buy all the boxes of frozen puff pastry. 

They’re great to have on hand for a lot of things really. You can use them to top off pot pies or make fruit filled hand pies or fake out danishes for breakfast or make puff pastry tarts topped with all sorts of delicious ingredients for appetizers. It’s a versatile ingredient and a pantry (freezer) essential. It’s gotten me out of many a last minute cooking/baking situation and I can’t recommend it enough. As I said earlier, the best thing to use puff pastry for is to make faux croissants. My friend Joy taught me to make quick croissants by filling puff pastry with chocolate chunks and rolling them around in cinnamon sugar and baking them off until golden brown and flaky. It’s an irresistible treat warm right out of the oven. This time around I’m filling them with a few spring ingredients like roasted asparagus and prosciutto and shredded gruyere cheese and champagne mustard. They’re part of my big Easter Brunch Bonanza going on right now. It’s the first recipe in our five recipe Easter bash and I think it’s a great way to start. 

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Chicken Chorizo Spicy Waffle Tostadas

Do you ever sometimes get tired of eating pancakes and eggs for breakfast and brunch, week after week? Don’t get me wrong, I love me some flapjacks and eggs but sometimes I just need something a bit more tasty and a lot more exciting. Who can eat the same thing over and over again without ever getting bored of it? Unless it’s French fries we’re talking about, then that’s another story. There’s no need to be eating pancakes every single morning of your life. Because of this yearning, I’m always on the look out for new and interesting breakfast dishes. The perfect recipe to wake us up and get us prepared to tackle the day. It’s like everyone always says, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so we should really take our time making dishes we can be passionate about. Don’t you agree?

I’ll never say no to a tostada. Plain and simple, I end up eating more tostadas in a month than I do anything else. Tostada Tuesdays are so much better than Taco Tuesdays, if you ask me. And if you haven’t tried it for yourself then you’re missing out and it sounds like a personal problem. You need to remedy that situation right away. Lucky for you I just happen to have these breakfast tostadas for your viewing/making/eating pleasure. The one component that really takes this dish further is the homemade chicken chorizo. I love chorizo but sometimes it feels super heavy to me, what with all of the spices and fat, so I happen to really love this homemade chicken chorizo as an alternative. Add some scrambled eggs (or cooked white rice) to the chorizo and just like that, you have a delicious breakfast or brunch dish that’ll impress just about anyone, including yourself. I’m here to tell you that making homemade Mexican chorizo is actually very easy to whip up. Sure, there are a lot of spices that go into the meat to give it that traditional chorizo flavor, but it’s totally worth it. It’s health(ier) and the best part is that you can store the uncooked chorizo in an airtight container in the fridge and cook it as you need it. You’ll have chicken chorizo tostadas, tacos, burritos, and breakfast sandwiches all the time.

Grinding up a big batch of it will be the best decision you’ll make all week. Making spicy waffles and layering them with all sorts of taco toppings will be the next best series of decisions in your life. Don’t fight it, just dust off that waffle iron and get to cooking some breakfast for yourself. There’s nothing wrong with eating these tostadas all alone. In fact, it’s probably for the better since you won’t have to share. It’ll be our secret, just between the two of us. The only thing that should be on your mind right now is how many tostadas you’ll be eating. It’s great to have an end goal to get you going. 

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Lemon, Poppy Seed and Blueberry Streusel Pound Cake

Okay, so the honest truth is that I had to make this cake a total of four times. Yes, you read that right. Four times before I got it right. I was ready to scream, pull out my hair, denounce pound cakes for life and give up on everything because a little ol’ pound cake was defeating me. This is why I never make pound cake by the way, because I feel like they’re always so difficult, for some unknown reason. It’s not like they require a lot of ingredients or attention for that matter. In theory, they’re kind of simple to make. Yet it’s my baking kryptonite. For those of you that think I never mess up in the kitchen, think again. Even I, with all of the baking experience I have, still make mistakes from time to time. It’s totally normal. In fact I’d be worried if I didn’t mess up because those little hiccups humble me and make me a better cook/baker. So don’t be hard on yourself if things don’t always come out right the first time. Just keep trying.  

The very first attempt of this cake, I forgot to toss the blueberries in flour so they all sank to the bottom of the loaf pan, causing a not-so-pretty wet mess at the bottom, forcing me to lose half of the cake to moisture. No good. I clapped my forehead and called myself a dummy for forgetting such a crucial step. Sure I was disappointed, but I started all over again without thinking twice about it. So off Julian went to the grocery store for me and got more blueberries and cream cheese and almonds so that I could go in for round two. I made the cake again, this time a bit faster since I didn’t have to photograph it step by step. I was thankful for that. The second time was also a failure. When I removed my precious pound cake from the oven, the center had completely caved in. I started laughing (masking the irritation) because I haven’t had a cake cave on me in many years since I started baking. I don’t know what happened, maybe I opened the door too soon or maybe there was a movement or loud bang by the oven at some point and it scared my cake into ruin? Who knows. Anyhow, I was ready to give up at this point but Julian (and my mother, through various frustrated phone calls all made by me to her) kept telling me to try again. Believe me I didn’t want to. So there I went off again to the grocery store to buy yet another box of blueberries and cream cheese and almonds and butter this time around and I got home and did it once again. Mind you it’s like 11:30 at night at this point and I’ve made this cake for a total of three times now. 

This time around I felt really confident. I told myself this was it, this time it would work. So I made it all again (with my eyes closed practically), poured the batter into the pan, topped it with the streusel and popped it into the oven. I even kiss the pan and said a little prayer before closing the oven door. I crossed my fingers and continued with some other work. I made sure to not make any sudden movements by the oven door, tip-toeing when I needed to, nor did I open it prematurely. This time around, I waited until the time was up. I open the oven door and all I saw was horror. Complete and utter horror. Low and behold, it was the biggest disaster of my entire career. Not only did the cake batter bubble over out of the pan and onto the baking sheet, but it also caved in (big time) and the blueberries sank once again. The trifecta of cake mishaps. I threw the cake away, with the pan, slammed everything shut and went to bed. I lost hope. I started looking at other jobs, getting ready to stop blogging and photographing and baking and cooking altogether—I exaggerate for the effect. Before bed Julian (and through one last phone call with my mother) convince me to not give up and just try again. Take it slower and do it carefully, they said.

If it wasn’t for the fact that I already shared some photos of the process and got you all excited about this cake on instagram, I would’ve just scratched the entire idea and done something else. I realized though, that I couldn’t just leave you guys hanging. I promised you a blueberry pound cake and by George I was going to deliver one. So I woke up super early the next morning, took one last trip to the grocery store for some more blueberries—which I single handedly have kept the blueberry growers rich—and more cream cheese and almonds and a lemon. I get home and start for the fourth time. Although this time around I changed the recipe a bit by removing an egg, adding more butter, losing the baking powder and baking soda and calling it good, making sure to toss those blueberries in flour. I poured it into the pan, topped it with streusel and put it in the oven without much hope. One hour and a half later I had the most perfect pound cake I have ever made/seen. I let it cool (in a kitchen cabinet above the sink because Napoleon has gotten into the bad habit of trying to eat anything in sight) and did the biggest celebratory dance ever known to mankind. That is the story of my adventure of making four pound cakes in less than 24 hours. I have to say though, it all paid off. This cake is pretty epic. 

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Steak and Avocado Breakfast Burritos

I’m going to be completely and totally honest with you and confess, right here right now, that I’m not really much of a breakfast eater. Don’t get me wrong, I happen to love breakfast…for dinner or lunch or even brunch. I love a good brunch. It’s one of my favorite weekend meals—that is when I’m not having a love affair with lunch or dinner. I especially love the brunches that involve mimosas or Bloody Marys. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a good morning cocktail, but we’re not talking about that right now. There’s always something that comes up and prevents me from eating in the morning. I know a lot of people who wake up super hungry, and the first thing they think about as soon as they open their eyes is what they’re going to eat for breakfast. I wish I could be like that, unfortunately most of the time I’m running around with so much to do that eating doesn’t even cross my mind, which is totally weird since my job is centered around food. You’d think I’d be eating all of the time! 

My mom doesn’t believe me when I tell her that sometimes I completely forget to eat breakfast. It just slips my mind, cross my heart and kiss my elbow. One minute I’ve just woken up, crossing off tasks from my to-do list left and right like a boss, and all of a sudden the next minute, it’s dinner time which also happens to be my first meal of the day. That’s awful kids, don’t do that. Although, as long as I’m being honest, I feel like even if I did remember to eat in the morning, I wouldn’t be able to have a heavy meal before work. I would get so sleepy if I did, and then I’d somehow find myself back in bed for a quick catnap and I wouldn’t get anywhere and my entire day would be shot. So really, when you think about it, it’s a good thing I don’t eat breakfast most weekdays. On the rare occasion that I do, I’ll have a granola bar or a handful of almonds or a bowl of cereal or a pb&J and call it good. I know that’s not much of a breakfast but I’m sure it’s better than nothing at all, right? Just lie to me and make me feel better about my life choices. 

Hey! It’s a new year so we should definitely be taking better care of ourselves. I’m saying this more for me than I am for you, but if you’re the same as I am and don’t make time for the most important meal of the day, then this goes for you as well. We’re all about making resolutions this time of year and in 2015 I’ve decided to make more of a conscious effort to slow down in the mornings and make a better attempt to eat more breakfasts. To eat all of the breakfasts. I’ll still enjoy my pancakes and hash browns for dinner every now and then, because that’s when they taste the best for some reason, but I’ll also start to incorporate them more in the morning, when they’re supposed to be eaten. One way to ensure I start eating before work is with a breakfast burrito. Nothing screams “GOOOOOOOD MORNING!!!!” more than a flour tortilla filled with potatoes, eggs, steak, avocado and cheese. Am I right ladies and gentlemen? I’m totally right. 

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Salted Caramel Apple and Pear Buckles

I needed a super fancy name for this post, hence the word “buckles.” Although in all reality, these are buckles. Buckles. Buckles. Buckles. I just really like saying “buckles” for some reason. Like that one very popular song I used to love as a kid. One, two, buckle my shoe. Three, four, close the door….wait, where was I? Oh that’s right, I was talking about how much I love these crumb cakes. That’s basically what buckles are, just really good coffee cake-like dessert. The perfect dessert or breakfast for autumn. Is it a problem that it’s been 80 plus degrees here in Los Angeles, and I’m baking for fall with the air conditioning running on full blast? I think it’s a problem. Clearly, Southern California didn’t get the whole changing of the season memo. Get it together LA! You’re way behind, it’s almost Thanksgiving. This is the part where you change the colors of your leaves and drop them to the ground. This is when you’re supposed to start pouring down on us all of this autumn rain. You’re doing it all wrong, California. You need to be more like the East Coast, or like Seattle. I’m all about Seattle weather. 

You know what I’m also all about? These salted caramel apple and pear buckles. AKA apple and pear spice cakes with a crumb topping. Even though it’s still hot as summer during the day in the West Coast, I still get a craving for a warm apple spice cake every November. I decided to take this recipe over the edge with a little (okay more than a little) salted caramel and of course let’s not forget about the cinnamon and oatmeal crumb topping. It’s like the world’s best coffee cake had a baby with the world’s best cobbler or fruit crisp. It’s like the universe is trying to tell me I should be spending my days eating all of the apple spice crumb cakes in the world.  Hey, what can I say? When the world talks to me, I listen. Especially when there’s cake involved. 

Speaking of cake, I’m having a really difficult time establishing if this cake is actually a breakfast or a dessert. Of course, if this is my mother or my doctor asking, I have most definitely decided that this is in fact not the perfect breakfast. Wink wink. Shhhh don’t tell anyone yet. This all stays between you and I.  Although I did actually make these with the idea on my mind that I need more breakfast recipes. So it can really go either way on this folks. I don’t care about what time during the day I eat it, just as long as I get to eat it. Am I right ladies and gentlemen? Of course I’m right. So now let’s go out and celebrate by making and eating these apple and pear buckles. It’s the only way to celebrate! 

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