Chile Relleno Frittata

Inspiration: Like most people, we have our favorite places in town. For us, one of those places is a brightly outfitted Mexican-American spot where we sit in striped booths, eat tortilla chips from a red basket, and sip our beverages of choice – usually margaritas for me (and strong ones at that!) and a tall frosted mug of Dos Equis for Brandon. This is the only place that I’ve ever been where it’s sometimes unwise of me to order a second margarita, so that = yes. Anyway, this restaurant serves up chile rellenos in the most delicious form – piping hot, oozing with melted cheese, covered in a smoky sauce. Yes, yes, and yes again. Frittatas are significantly less exciting fare, but you know what? A frittata based on one of my favorite Mexican dishes can’t be a bad thing.

What we Loved: This frittata had all of the flavors that I expect from a chile relleno, just in a rearranged form. Spicy, earthy poblano peppers, browned onions, fresh cilantro, perfectly melted cheese, and a smoky, spicy red sauce. It’s a wonderful combination of Mexican flavors and spices, and probably as similar to a chile relleno that you can get in frittata form. We ate this both for dinner and for breakfast, and while I loved it in each setting, I preferred it for breakfast because it made me feel like I was eating a Mexican treat first thing out of bed. I can get behind that! Now if only I can sneak a margarita into breakfast? ;)

Helpful Hints: Chihuahua cheese is my favorite melting cheese, particularly for use in Mexican dishes. It melts like no other cheese that I’ve found, so if you can find it, I would definitely recommend using it. I find ours at the cheese section at Whole Foods.

Chile Relleno Frittata
Source: Original Recipe

For the Frittata
1 tablespoon butter
3 medium poblano peppers, seeded and diced
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 eggs
Handful fresh cilantro, minced
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup chihuahua cheese, shredded

1. Melt the butter in a large saute pan, and then add the peppers and onions. Saute until the vegetables are softened and beginning to brown. Add the garlic, and cook for one minute more.

2. Whisk the eggs, cilantro, and 1/4 cup cheese together. Season well with salt and pepper.

3. Pour the eggs into the pan, and place into a 350 degree oven. Cook until the eggs are just set, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the eggs, and bake for 3-4 minutes more, until the cheese melts.

4. Serve topped with the chipotle sauce.

For the Chipotle Sauce
This will make a lot more than needed (~2 cups), but you can freeze the extra and it makes a great chile relleno or enchilada sauce.

1-2 chipotle chiles, diced, and 2 teaspoons of adobo sauce (be cautious here, depending on how much spice you like)
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 Vidalia onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup stock (I used chicken; use vegetable to keep this vegetarian)

1. Heat  a drizzle of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, and cook until softened. Add the garlic, cumin, and oregano, and stir to combine, cooking a minute longer.

2. Add the chiles, adobo sauce, tomatoes, and chicken stock. Simmer 20 minutes.

3. Pour the sauce mixture into a food processor and process until smooth.

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Spinach, Mushroom, and Almond Frittata

Inspiration: Since making a Tuscan frittata a few weeks ago, I’ve been in the mood to try out all different kinds. They really make for such frugal and interesting dinners! This recipe is actually a very old recipe from my blog that was adapted from a tapas cookbook and meant to be part of a tapas meal. I increased the ingredient amounts here to make a full supper, but this recipe is good cut in half and served as a tapa as well.

What we Loved: This recipe is packed full of nutrients and interesting flavors/textures. Earthy mushrooms and spinach, crunchy almonds, and nutty Parmesan make for a great combination in our book! I feel like mushrooms and spinach always pair beautifully because their dark, earthy flavors complement each other, and the addition of almonds in a frittata is a crunchy, unexpected surprise. This is a solid and light weeknight supper.

Helpful Hints: This is a very dense frittata the way that I prepared it (using only four eggs). I would suggest using at least six eggs, and anywhere from 6-10 would probably work. My frittata needed a little more structure, as there wasn’t quite enough egg to seep down around all the vegetables. I’ll indicate to use six eggs below, but use even more if you’d like – the only thing that it will vary is how packed together the vegetables are in final dish.

Spinach, Mushroom, and Almond Frittata
Source: Adapted from The Tapas Cookbook: A Classic Collection of Spanish-Style Recipes

Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
6-8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
10 oz package frozen spinach
1/3 cup roasted almonds, finely chopped
6 eggs (can vary to 8-10)
2 tablespoons cold water
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a saute pan. Add the onions and cook until tender, and then add the mushrooms. Cook until the water released from the mushrooms has evaporated and the mushrooms are tender and starting to brown, approximately 5-10 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until the moisture evaporates, and then add the almonds. Mix all of the ingredients until well combined.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, water, salt, and pepper. Pour the mixture into the pan.

3. Add the grated Parmesan to the top of the frittata, and place it in a preheated 450 degree oven. Cook until the eggs are set and the cheese is melted, approximately 10-15 minutes. Broil for an additional 2-3 minutes if desired (I did not).

Tuscan Frittata

Inspiration: Frittatas are really a lovely dish that I don’t prepare enough. You could go all over the place with them, right? They’re good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They can always act as the main dish, as they’re a good source of protein. You can use up pretty much any vegetables, meats, or cheeses that you have in the fridge. They really are a vehicle for a lot of creativity. I’m hoping to concoct several more frittata recipes in the coming weeks using our gorgeous CSA eggs.

What we Loved: This frittata was almost like a pizza (which is always a plus in my book)! The spicy Italian sausage, roasted red peppers, and sweet onions added wonderful flavors and complexity to the fluffy eggs, which had a wonderful, just slightly browned flavor on the bottom. When I first saw this recipe, what really drew me to it was the idea of the tomato sauce and gooey, fresh mozzarella on top. I just love that!

Helpful Hints: The only change that I would make to this recipe would be to use marinara sauce instead of plain crushed tomatoes on top. I thought that the plain crushed tomatoes could use a little something (which is why I added oregano and Italian pizza seasoning with the leftovers, as shown above – and that really was the finishing touch!). I would still recommend using marinara, though, because I think it would make the recipe perfect. I’ve replaced the crushed tomatoes with marinara below.

***As an aside, please research where your eggs (and all of your food, really) come from. Eggs from chickens that have been properly raised are a whole different nutritional (and flavor/texure) story than those that you can buy in a typical grocery store,  and what we do to factory farmed chickens on an ethical level is horrifying at best.***

Tuscan Frittata
Source: Adapted (slightly) from The Galley Gourmet, originally from Williams Sonoma

10 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Kosher salt and black pepper
8 oz Italian sausage
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup marinara sauce
6 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
Dried oregano and/or Italian pizza seasoning

1. Preheat the oven to 350. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, Parmesan, and a good sprinkle of salt and pepper.

2. Cook the sausage in a large saute pan until browned. Set aside.

3. In the same pan, saute the onion and red pepper until softened. Add the garlic, and cook for an additional minute.

4. Return the sausage to the pan, and pour in the egg mixture. Transfer the pan to the oven, and bake until the eggs are just barely set, about 15 minutes.

5. Remove the pan from the oven. Spread the marinara over the eggs, and arrange the mozzarella on top. Bake or broil for 3-5 minutes more, until the cheese is melted (and beginning to brown, if you use the broiler).

6. Sprinkle with oregano and/or Italian pizza seasoning, and serve.

Breakfast Nut and Fruit Bars

Breakfast Nut and Fruit Bars

*Photos Updated June 2012*

Inspiration: Our breakfasts usually involve something like a couple of eggs, maybe an omelet, maybe some bacon. We don’t eat carbohydrates on a day-to-day basis (in the refined sense – I sure love my black beans and cashews and butternut squash!), so variety with breakfast can be a challenge. Why is it that the standard breakfasts in this country are riddled with so many empty carbohydrates and sugars that are going to do nothing in the way of….well, anything? Anyway, we always love finding great protein-filled breakfast options, and these bars seemed the perfect choice.

What We Loved: OK, these are good. When I sat down to eat the first one for breakfast, I almost felt a little guilty, because it seemed like I was eating a rich and indulgent dessert. The main thing that strikes me with these bars is the wonderfully rich and creamy flavors and textures – predominantly the almond butter (which is great if you love almond butter as much as we do) and the coconut flavors from the coconut oil. They both combine so well for a really smooth, rich base for these bars. Layered on top of that, all of the chopped nuts add a great crispy texture, and the dried fruit gives nice little tart and chewy bursts of flavor. And holy cow, look at all of those great proteins and fats! We have both been obsessed with these and looking forward to them every morning (we’re on batch two right now), and they really do provide for a satisfying breakfast that keeps us full until lunch. They’re definitely our newest addiction.

Helpful Hints: It can be a little tough to cut these into bars and remove them from the pan, but it’s really not a big deal if they break or crumble a bit. You can just pat them back together. You can also switch up the nut and fruit varieties for any that you prefer. And as an aside, nut flour is nothing but nuts that have been very finely ground to the consistency of a powder.

Breakfast Nut and Fruit Bars
Source: Adapted from The Cavewoman Cafe, originally from Mark’s Daily Apple

1 cup almonds (I use roasted and salted)
1 cup pecans
1/2 cup nut flour (hazelnut flour is good) or coconut flour
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup coconut oil
Scant 1/4 cup of honey (optional – I leave it out)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup dried fruit

1. Place the nuts in a food processor, and process until they are a coarse meal. Don’t pulse too much – you want pieces of nuts to remain. Place the nuts in a medium-sized bowl with the nut or coconut flour.

2. Place the coconut oil and almond butter in a bowl, and microwave for about a minute. Stir together well, then mix in the honey (if using), vanilla, and salt.

3. Add the almond butter mixture to the nuts, and then fold in the fruit. Smooth into a baking dish. Chill in the fridge for one hour, or until solid. Cut into squares, and keep chilled until ready to eat.

Feta and Cheddar Breakfast Casserole

Inspiration: One of my favorite times of the year is the week before Christmas. The last few years I’ve taken vacation days from work, and I’ve used the time to hang out at home and do all of the things that I enjoy the most while I look forward to Christmas. And that includes a lot of cooking! The first thing that I decided to cook this year was a nice breakfast casserole that B and I could enjoy on our lazy mornings.

What we Loved: This casserole was so flavorful! I loved the combination of the strong feta cheese and the sharp cheddar. The cheddar helped the casserole to get nice and crispy brown in the corners and on top, and the feta added a really nice bite. Combined with a spicy kick from the jalapenos, this casserole really had a lot of great flavors. And as an added bonus, it was so easy to prepare, which is always nice!

Helpful Hints: You could add pretty much anything that you’d like into this recipe. The original recipe called for ham, which would be great, or other meats like sausage or crumbled bacon would work wonderfully, too.

Feta and Cheddar Breakfast Casserole
Source: Adapted from Closet Cooking

I changed the original recipe a bit to suit what I had on hand. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

10 eggs
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
3 finely diced jalapeno peppers
4 finely diced green onions
Kosher salt and black pepper

1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl.

2. Pour into an 8 inch square baking dish.

3. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes, until the eggs are firmly set and golden brown on top.