Category Archives: recipes

Eggnog French Toast

It’s worth mentioning that the alternate title to this post was “Buy Yourself Stretchy Pants on Black Friday Because We’ve Got a Lot of Holidays to Go.”

California Weather is FINALLY starting to figure out that it’s not time for us to be in swimming pools or cranking the A/C and I am relishing the wet, rainy weather that is creeping in. Using my defogger in the car, seeing frost on the grass outside my apartment, and feeling the sharpness of the air when I’m running . . . Gah! It’s sooooooo wonderful. I love fall and winter the most. But truth be told, winter edges out fall just a bit . . . and that bit has to do with my birthday. (Sorry, Fall, I just wanted to arrive on time.)

The best part, though, might be all of the seasonal goodies. While I don’t partake in the mint-chocolate (gross!), there is one thing I truly, deeply LOVE about the swiftly-coming-upon-us holidays . . .

Eggnog.

Up until I was about 16, I’d never tried eggnog. My parents both hate it, so we never had it in the house. I definitely think it’s one of those love-it-or-hate-it kinds of foods and I simply love it. For someone without much of a sweet tooth, I’m amazed at just how thrilled I get seeing little red and green cartons of deliciousness. It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

But I am not always a fan of a one-trick pony and a visit this weekend from my boyfriend prompted some creativity . . . What else could I do with eggnog aside from drinking it?

I stocked up (two cartons — I don’t mess around with eggnog) and thought about the substance itself — eggs, cream/milk, vanilla, cinnamon . . . The ingredients list goes on, but I’ll be darned if the first thought in my head wasn’t, “French toast!” as I whipped around to stare at the woman behind me at Whole Foods, dramatically of course. (She, of course, gave me quite the perplexed look as I stammered about bread and eggnog and tried to explain what I had been thinking but thought I’d actually articulated to her. Smooth, Robyn.)

So while Alex snoozed on Saturday morning, I took to the kitchen, giddy and eager to whip up some culinary magic. (Side note: I seriously wish I could do breakfast like in the movies where the girl has just woken up yet is effortlessly adorable with barely-taussled hair and no makeup. However, in my grubby sweats, my curly, unruly hair and sometimes-failed-makeup-removal, I usually look like Robert Smith upon waking.)

I got my supplies: eggnog, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and maple syrup (not shown, but check out the bar of dark chocolate for cooking-in-progress nibbling).

Necessary supplies: eggs, eggnog, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate. (Okay, the chocolate was for nibbling during the process. Shh!)

I dipped two pieces of crusty, whole wheat bread (possibly the only redeeming ‘healthy’ component) in a mixture of the ‘nog, eggs and spices and then laid them in a pan to fry with butter (because you might as well go all-out at this point).

Using anything other than butter for this would be the breakfast equivalent of the Diet-Coke-with-your-Big-Mac phenomenon.

After they were done, I put on another pat of butter (Paula Deen much?) and some maple syrup and I was done. Seriously, stick a fork in me D-O-N-E.

It was soooooooooooooooooooo good. Alex’s thoughts? “Simple creative deliciousness.” (I bribe him into saying stuff like that with food. Sorry.)

I’ll have to make it again soon because I have some baggy pants to fill and I scarfed it down before I had the chance to take a picture of it.

But seriously . . . Wellness is more than being skinny, it’s more than hours-long workouts, and it has every bit to do with a well-purposed state of mind — the one that thinks, “Hmm, something tasty would be a fun breakfast treat for my hunny” and understands that food is not the enemy and that little indulgences are part of longer-term happiness.

I hear the road to Hell is paved with good intentions . . . 😉

Robyn’s Get-Out-Your-Stretchy-Pants Eggnog French Toast (serves 2)

Ingredients:
– 2 eggs
– 1 cup eggnog (full fat, folks – go big or go home)
– 1 Tbsp nutmeg
– 1 Tbsp cinnamon
– 1 Tbsp vanilla (I’m really not sure why I added this other than it was a Pavlovian response to the French toast process — so, consider this ‘optional’)
– 4 slices of bread
– butter (use about 2 Tbsp to fry the French toast, use however much you want to put on the toast when it’s done)
– maple syrup

1. Break eggs into a bowl and add eggnog, vanilla (if you’re using it), and spices. Whisk until it’s smooth and pour into a baking dish (or some other dish with an edge high enough to keep the fluid in).
2. Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a frying pan over medium heat.
3. Dip bread in mixture and set in frying pan. Cook for about 3-4 minutes and flip.
4. Serve with butter and maple syrup (the real stuff . . . no fake crap, please).
5. Try to make sure you’re using up the last few slices of a loaf of bread — that way you can’t make it again immediately following the finishing of the meal.

Bon appetit! Time to go waddle to the gym . . .

What are some of your favorite holiday/seasonal treats? Do you repurpose fun things into ingredients for other recipes? What’s your most creative dish?

Kabocha squash and spinach soup

Pulled this recipe from my Whole Foods iPhone app. (If you have an iPhone, I seriously recommend getting this app.) I love squash and when I was at the farmer’s market on Sunday, I saw a beautiful kabocha squash. To my knowledge, I’d never tried it before, so I picked one up — there was bound to be some way to eat it, right? (Plus, Teri recently professed her love for kabocha and made it sound really easy and good. Gotta love some good word of mouth, right?) The fall weather that is slowly, but surely making its presence known in the Bay area added to my enthusiasm for culinary adventure this evening.

Here goes . . .

1 medium kabocha squash, cut into 1″ chunks
2 cups spinach, packed
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic (I used 2 tsp of pre-minced garlic, so I really don’t know how close I got to this estimate)
4 cups vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste
shredded mozzarella or crumbled feta to garnish
sour cream

Put broth, squash, onion and garlic into a pot and bring to a rolling boil. Boil until kabocha squash is soft (about 15 minutes). Use a potato masher to mash squash. Add spinach and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve, salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with sour cream and/or feta.

My modifications: I used feta and sour cream, but when I went back for a (smaller) second bowl (hey, it’s 130 cal per serving – ain’t no shame in going back for seconds), I used goat cheese instead of feta. DELISH!

 

Kabocha spinach soup.

 

A casualty of cooking — my poor, broken wine glass. It slipped out of my hand as I was pulling it out of the cabinet and smashed on the granite counter. There was glass EVERYWHERE. That was fun. On the bright side: I couldn’t remember the last time I’d swept my floor and now I can — today. It was also from IKEA — it was cheap.

 

Broken wine glass. (Sad. So very sad.)

 

The recipe made four servings — and I mean HEARTY servings. I put some in a container for tomorrow’s lunch and I STILL had enough to freeze two servings. Wow!

Also on tonight’s agenda:
– a glass of cabernet sauvignon (okay, two)
– pieces of chocolate (72% cacao, baby!)
– curling up with a book, my chocolate and wine in bed
– early bedtime

Do you like squash? What are you cooking lately? Any seasonal foods working their way onto your menu these days?

Vegetarian Lentil Chili

I love chili. It’s hearty, usually healthy and you can do a LOT with it. You really can customize it and make it your own. That said, I’m going to have to get inventive with the names because “vegetarian lentil chili” covers a multitude of concoctions.

I wish  I had a photo of tonight’s masterpiece, but I don’t. It really was so simple, though, that you can just imagine French lentils and tomatoes.

Alrighty . . . here goes . . .

1 cup French lentils
2 cups water
1 can no-salt-added tomatoes
1 Tbsp minced garlic (I use the stuff in the jar — so much easier even though I don’t mind mincing garlic)
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried cilantro
1 Tbsp cumin
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

I started by putting the lentils and water in a pot on high heat. While that heated up, I simmered the garlic in the butter in a separate pan. After the lentils started to boil and soften, I added the browned garlic, herbs and spices. I like spicy chili, so I’m a little more liberal with the dosage of cayenne.  Anyway, after all of the spices have been added, let it simmer for a few minutes (like, five) and then open the can of tomatoes, drain the liquid and pour in. Stir, let it heat up and then serve! I put a splash of Tapatio in mine (because apparently, it just wasn’t spicy enough) along with a bit of shredded cheddar cheese.

I would have loved to have added onion, celery and maybe even some carrot to the mix, but I didn’t have any and didn’t feel like making a special trip to Trader Joe’s.

Confession: when I’m cooking on the fly, I rarely measure. I kind of eyeball it. I also don’t really time myself either. I have a feeling that this isn’t the best practice for recipes, but you know what? It works for me. Sorry I’m not sorry.

And that’s that. Hope everyone else ate something tasty today. I also watched “You’ve Got Mail” while cooking — I had every intention of watching the news, but flipped on the TV where it was still on AMC (from watching “Mad Men” last night) and saw one of my all-time favorites and, well, you know . . . I just didn’t want to couldn’t turn it off.

What’s your favorite go-to recipe? Do you have recipes that you rely on when you’re busy/tired/stressed?