Who knew that a seemingly standard egg casserole dish could be such a stellar addition to a cozy post-Christmas brunch with friends? I spent what felt like hours researching egg casserole recipes in the days prior to our brunch and eventually decided to merge two recipes together.
And as it turns out – as if I didn’t already suspect it – caramelized onions, spinach, cheese, and bread in an egg casserole is a fantastic addition to a brunch…or any breakfast, really, where you want to spend time with some of your favorite people. We saw these same friends again a week after said brunch and they were still raving about this dish. Not the homemade waffles or the biscuits and gravy, but this caramelized onion and spinach egg casserole. I think that says it all.
This overnight egg casserole is a complete winner in my book. Feel free to add other veggies to the mix if you choose - kale, chard, mushrooms, peppers, etc. - and change up the type of cheese you use (fontina would be amazing). It's a versatile recipe that helps you take advantage of doing the hard work of entertaining for a group in advance.
2 large onions, thinly sliced into half-moon slices
1 tsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp minced fresh thyme
12 oz fresh spinach
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups milk
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
10 large eggs
8 oz Emmentaler Swiss cheese (or just plain Swiss if you prefer), grated (about 2 cups), divided
2 oz Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup), divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the butter and oil. Once the butter has melted, toss in the sliced onions, sugar, thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 30-35 minutes, until the onions are a deep golden brown. Add a few handfuls of spinach to the pan on top of the onions and cover the pan. After 2 minutes, start stirring the spinach into the onions with tongs. Cover the pan and cook for another 1 minute; stir the spinach into the onions again. Continue adding, cooking, and stirring until all of the spinach has wilted into the onion mixture. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, pour the cream and milk into a large bowl (you can also use your stand mixer or hand mixer for this step). Whisk in the mustard, eggs, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper until the eggs are well-beaten. Mix in 1 ½ cups of the Emmentaler and ¾ cup of the Parmesan cheeses.
Grease a 9x13-inch (3 quart) baking dish and lay the bread cubes out in the baking dish. Cover the bread with the onion-spinach mixture. Pour the milk-egg-cheese mixture over everything in the baking dish, allowing the wet ingredients to envelope the bread cubes. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours - overnight is better.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Allow the baking dish to sit on the counter while the oven preheats. Place the dish on a baking sheet. Bake until the casserole puffs up, doesn't jiggle in the center when you shake the dish, and is golden brown on top, 1 hour. If the center of the casserole still jiggles after 1 hour, bake for another 10-15 minutes, checking after 8 minutes. Mine took longer than an hour because the dish was so cold from the fridge. If the top starts to brown too much, lay a piece of foil lightly over the top. Allow the casserole to stand for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.
Quite possibly the only good thing that comes out of this ridiculously frigid winter is the pure winter food. Snow food. Subzero food. We’ve found ourselves hunkered down on snow days and snow nights more times than I can count in the past month and with that, we’ve fallen in love with this chicken and dumplings recipe.
Growing up in the northeast, neither of us had ever eaten this classic Southern comfort food before this winter (I know, right?!) but we’re smitten. Utterly smitten. This one-pot meal does take a little time to pull together but if you’ve got a couple hours to spare – most of which is inactive time – you won’t be disappointed. At its core, this classic chicken and dumplings is a hearty white chicken stew topped with fresh and fluffy melt-in-your-mouth dumplings made with rendered chicken fat you’ll save from the start of the recipe. You could add some herbs to the dumplings if you so desire but in my Yankee opinion, the recipe is quite perfect as it is. At this point, this winter can shove it. But don’t take my chicken and dumplings away with it.
I've made this recipe twice in the past few months; once using bone-in chicken thighs and once with boneless skinless thighs and the difference in flavor was negligible. If you want a slightly less fattening version, go with the boneless skinless thighs. You could also use chicken breasts here but the thighs really do have more flavor.
The recipe also halves really nicely, especially for two people who want some leftovers.
Lastly, the dumplings should be made the same day you eat the stew - they aren't as fabulous when reheated. But if you plan to only eat a portion of the stew on the first day and leftovers the next night, the dumplings are super quick to make so consider making only what you need for each day.
For the chicken stew:
5 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
4 tsp canola oil, divided
4 tbsp unsalted butter
4 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 ribs celery, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 large onion, minced
6 tbsp all-purpose flour
¼ cup dry sherry
4 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup whole milk
1 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1 cup frozen green peas
3 tbsp minced fresh parsley leaves
For the dumplings:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp table salt
1 cup whole milk
3 tbsp reserved chicken fat (or unsalted butter)
To make the chicken stew: Pat the chicken pieces dry then sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it just starts to smoke then add half of the chicken, skin side down, and brown both sides, about 10 minutes. Move the chicken to a large plate and remove the skin. Pour off the chicken fat from the pot into a heatproof bowl and reserve until later. Return the pot to the heat, add the remaining oil to the pot and repeat with the remaining chicken. Pour off the fat into the bowl.
With the pot back on the heat, melt the butter and cook the carrots, celery, onion, and ¼ teaspoon salt until the vegetables have softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the flour. Whisk in the sherry and scrape up any brown bits. Whisk in the chicken broth and milk, then stir in the thyme and bay leaves. Nestle the chicken into the mixture, cover the pot, and allow the mixture to a simmer on low for 1 hour.
With tongs, pull the chicken out of the pot and transfer it to a cutting board - it will probably fall apart as you pull it out so do this carefully. Remove the bay leaves. Remove the chicken bones (and discard them) and shred the meat. Skim any fat off the top of the stew (and discard), then stir the shredded chicken into the stew. Stir in the peas and parsley, and season the stew to taste with salt and pepper. Return the stew to a simmer.
To make the dumplings: Stir the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Heat the milk and reserved chicken fat (or butter) together in the microwave until warmed through, about 1 minute. Using a wooden spoon, stir the milk mixture into the flour mixture until just combined.
Scoop out golf ball-size pieces of the dumpling batter and plunk them gently on top of the stew, about ¼-inch apart (you should be able to get 18 dumplings). Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and allow the dumplings to double in size, about 15-18 minutes. Serve immediately.
There’s this little independent bookstore café in New Haven, right in the heart of the city’s shopping area as well as Yale University’s art district and on the fringe of the iconic dormitory colleges which still make me feel like I’m walking around Hogwarts rather than a New England small city. Atticus is the name of this place and I’ll admit that I don’t go there for the books. I go for the black bean soup…and the bread but that’s another story for another time.
For years I’ve been planning to replicating this smoky black bean soup at home and after a few close attempts, I finally nailed it. The key, which I remembered upon a recent bowl at lunch, was that the soup Atticus serves is not vegetarian; it’s made with a base of sauteéd bacon. Let me tell you, the bacon makes aaaall the difference here. That smoky bacon boosts the flavor of the cumin and is the key to bring the soup together. This recipe is a very basic one and now that I’ve got it down pat, I can start obsessing about replicating Atticus’ ciabatta rolls.
2 cups water (or black bean cooking liquid if you cook your own black beans)
3 cups (2 14-oz cans) black beans, drained (not rinsed)
½ cup chopped cilantro
Sauté the bacon for 5-8 minutes. Add the onions, a few cranks of freshly ground black pepper, garlic, cumin, and chile powder. Stir in one cup of the broth and scrape up the bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the rest of the broth and the water. Bring the mixture to a simmer and add the beans. Simmer for 20 minutes. Pureé the soup with an immersion blender until most of the beans have been pureed (or transfer most of the soup to a blender to pureé). Stir in the cilantro and continue to simmer until the soup has thickened, another 5-10 minutes. If the soup foams, skim off the foam with a shallow spoon and discard the foam - this is normal for black bean soup. Stir in a couple squeezes of lime before serving.
Happy Valentine’s Day! I’d like to think that as a woman, I’m pretty low-maintenance. This however, is more likely to be adaptive behavior on my part because Kyle is one of the most low-maintenance guys I’ve ever met. As far as one the greatest holidays of the year goes, we role right through it without a whole lot of fanfare. Busy restaurants are not our thing and tonight he’ll be cooking dinner for me. I could take or leave a dozen roses. We forget to buy cards and a mutual shrug of “oh well, you know I love you” just works with us.
Another thing we definitely agree on are these peanut butter cheesecake swirl brownies. It combines three of our very favorite things into one dessert. The recipe happens in two parts – a quick one-bowl dark chocolate brownie recipe goes into the baking pan and then a creamy peanut butter cheesecake batter gets dolloped and swirled in. The result is magic. Since I made these a couple of weeks ago, they won’t be our Valentine’s dessert tonight but I’ve got something else up my sleeve that I’m sure we won’t disagree on.
These brownies are super rich. Feel free to cut them into 24 pieces but I don't think anyone would complain if you cut them smaller.
For the brownies:
14 tbsp unsalted butter
6 oz bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups granulated sugar
6 oz cream cheese, softened and cut into ½-inch cubes
6 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
For the peanut butter cheesecake swirl layer:
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
6 tbsp sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
To make the brownies: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 13x9-inch baking pan with foil and spray the foil lightly with baking spray.
Melt the butter and chocolate together in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until melted. Take the saucepan off the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder, sugar, cream cheese, eggs, and vanilla until well-combined. Add the salt and flour to the saucepan and whisk into the batter until just combined - do not overmix. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top.
To make the peanut butter cheesecake swirl layer: Beat the cream cheese, peanut butter, and sugar together at medium-high speed in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer until smooth and well-combined, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Dollop the cheesecake batter two tablespoons at a time over the brownie batter. Swirl the dollops with a knife into the brownie batter. I find it easiest to run the knife through the dollops once across the length of the pan and then once through the dollops across the width of the pan.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the center of the pan is just set. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow the brownies to cool to room temperature. Cover the pan and refrigerate for a couple of hours before lifting the foil out of the pan and cutting the brownies. Brownies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.
As many of you have already noticed, I’ve been taking a little break from this space for a little while. Thanks to all of you who have written to check in and who expressed concern. Things are good here, actually. I decided at the end of last year that I needed to declutter my brain. Between the time I was spending on the computer each day during work at the office and at home on email/the blog/social media/reading blogs/etc., I felt like I was frying my brain. I was starting to have trouble concentrating, prioritizing, making decisions. Basically, I was in overload. And I didn’t like it. I was sacrificing important things like time with Kyle, my hobbies (like reading and cooking), and sleep. I was dragging all day long, didn’t want to cook at night, and I started to feel like my blog was becoming a chore.
I like this little space here on the internet that I’ve deemed my own and I like sharing it with you. But in the past few weeks, I realized (remembered?) that I also really like my sleep, and my hobbies, and of course spending time with Kyle…all without feeling chained to the computer at night. So I’ve got to be honest with myself and with you. I don’t do this blog thing “full-time”. I have a full-time job (a career, in fact!) that I really love and which, along with my commute and time to pretty myself-up in the morning, takes up 11 waking hours of my weekday. Add in time to cook and eat dinner, workout time, and time with Kyle, and it’s a helluva a lot to handle.
To sum it all up, I’m making some sacrifices now in order to keep myself happy and to keep from completely reaching the point of burn out later. If I only get to post a recipe here once or twice a week, that’s all I’ve got. You can be sure they’ll all still be really great recipes, like these dulce de leche overnight cinnamon rolls. And you’ll still find me posting stuff over on Facebook or on a Pin binge every so often. I do hope you’ll stick with me and understand at the same time that I need to prioritize my happiness in order to allow everything else I do to work properly.
Now, about those cinnamon rolls… Holy hell. We certainly started the new year off well with these super indulgent rolls for breakfast on New Year’s morning. I took to starting a [now miserably failed] sourdough starter recipe later on that day but the day began with a pan of beautifully risen rolls oozing with a bubbling cinnamon maple dulce de leche filling. It was one of the better ideas I’d had in a while. We found the maple dulce de leche at Stonewall Kitchen while in Maine on our Christmas getaway and meant to put it out for the waffles we made for our friends a few days after Christmas but forgot – oops! Any kind of dulce de leche will do here and if you want to make your own, I highly recommend trying it! It’s definitely a sugar overload to pour a vanilla glaze over these babies but who cares? If you’re all in, you’re all in.
This is an overnight cinnamon roll recipe so be sure to plan ahead. You'll need about 3 hours of prep time before you refrigerate the rolls overnight, 30 minutes for the rolls to proof in the morning, and another 30 minutes to bake them off. It seems like a ton of time but nearly all of it is inactive/hands-off time. This is my kind of recipe!
To make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer (or with a regular whisk), beat the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, melted butter, and buttermilk together until combined. Slowly whisk in 2 cups of the flour, the yeast, and the salt until just combined. Switch to the dough hook and add 1 ¼ cups of flour to the bowl. Knead the dough for 5 minutes. If at this point the dough is still very sticky, add in another ½ cup flour and continue to knead for another 3 - 5 minutes. If after two minutes of kneading has passed and the dough is still sticky, stir in the remaining ¼ cup flour and knead until the dough is soft and slightly tacky but not sticky. Overall, the dough should knead for about 10 minutes in the mixer (by hand this will take closer to 15 minutes).
Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for 30 seconds. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, rolling it around in the bowl to cover all of the sides with oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm spot for 2 - 2 ½ hours, until it doubles in size.
To assemble the rolls: Grease a 9x13-inch (3 quart) glass or ceramic baking dish. Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and shape the dough with your hands into a 12x18-inch rectangle with the long side facing you. Using an offset spatula, gently spread the dulce de leche out over the dough leaving a ½-inch border around the outside edges. Sprinkle the cinnamon and pinch of salt evenly over the dulce de leche.
Starting with the long edge closest to you, roll the dough into a tight long roll, pinching the seam at the end into the dough to seal it together. A tight roll is important here to keep the dulce de leche from oozing out too much. With the seam side down, slice the roll into 12 equal-sized pieces with a serrated knife. Place each piece into the baking dish, cut side down. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 16 hours.
In the morning, bring a kettle of water to a boil. Remove the baking dish from the fridge and place it on the middle rack in a turned off oven. Fill a shallow pan 2/3-full with the boiling water and place the pan of water on a rack under the baking dish in the oven; close the oven door and allow the rolls to proof for 30 minutes, until they are slightly puffy - they will not double in size. Remove the baking dish and pan of water from the oven.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Remove the plastic wrap from the baking dish and bake the rolls for 30 minutes, until they are golden brown. Some of the filling will have oozed out into the pan but don't worry - it's all still amazing. Allow the rolls to cool in the dish on a wire rack until they are warm but not hot.
To make the vanilla glaze: While the rolls are cooling, whisk the milk and vanilla into the sifted sugar until the mixture is thick, glossy, and smooth. If it's too thick, add a little more milk by the teaspoon until it reaches your desired consistency. Pour the glaze over the rolls and serve immediately.