French Toast Casserole

Wisdom teeth extraction post-op: It was a rough weekend. Despite the fact that I had a pretty smooth recovery — minimal pain & swelling — I was still experiencing a fair amount of discomfort which made it difficult to eat non-soft foods.

However, I had a huuuuge urge to bake something — but it had to be something sweet (cause I love sweets), semi-soft (because I just got 4 teeth pulled), and delicious.

I’ve been wanting to try a recipe that was given to me by my friends’ (Lauren & Ali) kind mother and so I figured it would be the perfect time.

Saturday night, after ending a wonderful Harry Potter flick, I told my boyfriend we MUST make this french toast casserole for breakfast tomorrow. And so we did. And it went a little something like this:

I cubed a loaf of challah, while my boyfriend combined eggs, vanilla, and milk in a large bowl.

I gave him the cubed bread and he dumped it into the egg mixture and mixed it all together, like a pro!

Then we covered the bowl in saran and let it sit in the fridge overnight.

The next morning, my boyfriend almost left before baking the casserole. Crazy, eh? But then I told him I’d make him a delicious vegetable omelette and he agreed to stay just a little longer (he’s not so big on sweets in the morning — weird).

Next step: I mixed together brown sugar, maple syrup, and melted butter and drizzled it over the bread mixture.

And it was ready to bake.

After 45 minutes at 350°F it looked something like this.

Golden, crispy, and just the right amount of sweetness.

By the way, I ate a slice for breakfast. Then another slice for lunch. Then another slice as an afternoon snack. And one last slice for dinner. That’s ALL I ate all day. French. Toast. Casserole. And it’s all gone now😦

Best day ever.

French Toast Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf of Challah
  •  7 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups milk (I used skim)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

Method

  1. Slice bread into 1-inch cubes.
  2. Combine eggs, milk, and vanilla in large bowl.
  3. Add bread cubes to egg mixture, mix well, cover with saran and refrigerate overnight.
  4. The next morning: Preheat oven to 350°F.
  5. Place bread mixture in 9 x 13 inch greased baking dish.
  6. Combine sugar, syrup, and butter and drizzle over dish.
  7. Bake in oven for about 40-45 minutes until golden and puffy.

Yours edibly,

Elana

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

Big news! I am getting my wisdom teeth out today. I am not very nervous at all. In fact, I am actually feeling borderline excited because I get to sleep all day, drink peanut butter banana smoothies, and have a Harry Potter marathon.

Oh the sweet life.

I prepared lots of this smoothie for the big day (and the day after) because I wanted something to look forward to post-op. This smoothie will definitely do the trick.

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 5 cups ice
  • 1 650g tub Activia Vanilla Yogurt
  • 1 cup Peanut Butter
  • 4 ripe bananas

Method

Combine in blender and enjoy!

Wish me good luck🙂

Yours edibly,

Elana

Quinoa-Spinach Salad

Sometimes it’s nice to make dinner and lunch at the same time, which is exactly what I did last night. I was in the mood for something lighter and healthier (after a ton of heavy eating in cottage country) so the first thing that came to mind was, of course, quinoa.

However, I am starting to get real sick of quinoa salads where quinoa is used as the base, so I decided to use spinach as the base instead and use quinoa as one of the many lovely toppings.

Everything I put into this salad was quite easy to prepare. First I roasted a couple sweet potatoes.

Because I didn’t have much patience to roast the potatoes for a long time, I chopped them up quite small and roasted them at 475° F for 20 minutes. They turned out quite nicely, aside from a couple burnt pieces, they were crispy and tender.

I prepared two cups of quinoa and spread it across a tray when it was done so it would cool down quickly. As the potatoes were roasting and the quinoa was simmering, I halved cherry tomatoes, and chopped up avocado and herbed goat cheese.

In my vinaigrette was olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, and honey — easy peasy.

I ate this meal for dinner and I plan to eat it for lunch today🙂

Oh and I also made some for my sisters and boyfriend — they are quite excited for their lunches.

Here is the recipe, enjoy!

Quinoa-Spinach Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Makes 5-6 Servings

Ingredients

  • 2 sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp oregano leaves
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups of dry quinoa
  • 6 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 2 avocados, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup crumbled goat cheese (I used herbed)

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp honey

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 475 ° F. Line baking sheet with tin foil.
  2. Mix cubed sweet potatoes with olive oil, basil, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Spread across baking sheet and roast about 20-25 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, place 2 cups of quinoa and four cups of water in medium pot. Bring to a boil then down to a simmer until all the water is absorbed.
  4. Once quinoa and sweet potatoes have cooled, place spinach leaves, then quinoa, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, avocado, and goat cheese in serving dish.
  5. Whisk together ingredients for vinaigrette and drizzle over salad. Serve cold.

Yours edibly,

Elana

Gourmet Club: Brunch

As I mentioned earlier, our most recent Gourmet Club was the best theme yet: brunch for dinner! I had been looking forward to this night for ages. Sipping mimosas while watching the sunset made this night beautiful and tasty🙂

Now for the spread…

There was supposed to be a baked mushroom omelette which would have added a nice savoury component to the meal — but the delicous rosti made up for it:

My friend Jaime did a wonderful job preparing the rosti — don’t they look perfect?

Next up, baked french toast:

Served with a side of glazed strawberries:

Then we had some coconut pancakes,

corn muffins,

fresh berries,

and last but not least, delicious homemade granola (courtesy of Ali🙂 )

Thanks ladies for a wonderful evening.

Yours edibly,

Elana

P.S. I prepared the sticky buns, which you can see in the picture of the spread.

Sticky Buns

I swear these buns are just as sticky as they look. But even more delicious than you would expect.

I made these buns for my most recent Gourmet Club dinner. We had the best theme yet: Breakfast/Brunch for dinner! It was a dream come true… a bit of a carb overload but still a dream🙂

I decided to use a very easy recipe because our dinner was in the middle of the week so I didn’t have time to prepare anything too fancy.

I found a great recipe in my Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics cookbook that was perfect! I made a few changes, based on some reviews I found, but otherwise that was it.

I started these buns by combining butter, brown sugar, and pecans and placing about a tablespoon at the bottom of 12 muffin trays.

Next, I floured the table, rolled out a sheet of puff pastry, and covered it with melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans like so:

I then rolled up the sheet nice and tight, and sliced it into six pieces. I repeated this all again and placed the spirals in the muffin tray.

I baked the buns at 350°F for 40 minutes until they were golden brown.

Then I removed them from the tray and placed them bottom side up on the plate.

All done.

The buns were firm on the outside but were soft and ooey gooey in the center, just how I like them!

Here is the recipe, enjoy!

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics – Sticky Buns.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped in very large pieces
  • 1 package (450g) or 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, defrosted overnight in fridge

For the Filling

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place 12-cup muffin tray on baking tray lined with parchment paper.

In an electric mixer, combine 1 1/4 sticks of butter and 1/3 cup of brown sugar until it has a paste-like texture. Place about a tablespoon in each muffin tray and sprinkle with a few pecans.

Flour a flat surface and roll out a sheet of puff pastry over top. Brush the entire sheet with 1/4 cup melted butter. Sprinkle the sheet with the brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans, making sure to leave a 1-inch border. Roll up the pastry nice and tight, trim the ends, and slice into 6 equal pieces. Place each piece spiral side up into muffin tray. Repeat with second sheet.

Bake the buns for about 40 minutes, until they are golden brown and the edges are firm. Cool for 5 minutes then invert onto baking tray or plate.

Yours edibly,

Elana

P.S. Gourmet club pictures will be up shortly!

Kale Eatery

My friend Ali and I both share a special love for vegan, gluten-free, raw foods. When Ali told me about Kale Eatery, I was very excited to try it out.

Kale Eatery is probably the only place in Toronto where you can pile a plate high with stews, salads and slime, and feel great about eating it all.

We chose to eat from the salad bar. When colourful food stares me in the eye like that I just really don’t have the patience to order off an a la carte menu.

So this is Ali’s plate:

I am going to try my best to name everything on her plate from memory, from the top, going clockwise: green pea and cucumber salad, squash stew, cole slaw, portobello mushroom and egglant salad, steamed kale and broccoli with tofu miso dressing.

Now my plate:

Clockwise from the top: squash stew, tomato, avocado, and celery salad, portobello mushroom and eggplant salad, tofu, lentil, and leek salad, tofu miso dressing, herbed artichokes, and tofu curry salad in the center.

This place is delicious and nutritious — seriously. If you’re into this sort of thing then you should definitely pay Kale a visit. Although some of the salads were slightly under-seasoned for my taste buds, I have to cut the chefs some slack. It’s not easy making simple, raw food so tasty, and Kale’s selection of salads is pretty good.

You can find the menu on Kale’s website – check it out and let me know what you think.

Yours meatless-ly,

Elana

Strawberry Cheesecake with Golden Oreo Crust

I am really hoping this will be my last cheesecake post for a long time. I have made 5 cheesecakes in the last month and believe it or not, I might actually be getting sick of them.

But this cheesecake is a bit different from my last because it is made with golden oreos, which I think taste much better in the cake.

My sister Shauna wanted to make a cake for her boyfriend’s birthday, so I obviously offered to help. We were sort of limited in our options of what to make, he only likes two types of cake: ice cream cake and strawberry cheesecake.

We decided that replicating the Baskin Robbins ice cream cake is a feat we’d save for another time and that adapting the oreo cheesecake recipe I originally used was definitely a more feasible option.

The crust is made by using 25 oreos (with filling) and about 3/4 of a stick of melted butter.

We put 5 quartered oreos into the filling, unfortunately leaving no extra oreos to snack on😦

We covered these up with more filling, baked the cake, decorated with strawberries and melted chocolate, and this was the end result.

Shauna said Richie liked it, but she said Richie’s younger brother liked it more — he ate three slices in one sitting — success!

Yours edibly,

Elana

(and I guess Shauna, too)