Cheesy Grits and Sausage

The Saturday after Thanksgiving my brother and his wife and family come to celebrate the holiday with us and we have a themed dinner that has nothing to do with the traditional turkey and fixings.  We’ve done Finnish, Polish, Mexican, and Soups and Breads.  This year our theme was Southern fare.  We had barbecued beef brisket, mac and cheese with pimentos, green beans with bacon and onions, coleslaw, bread pudding with bourbon sauce for dessert, and, for breakfast Sunday morning, cheesy grits with sausage.  Sometimes I think the internets know what we are thinking before we know what we are thinking because Allrecipes emailed me this recipe well ahead of our Southern menu being finalized.  When you travel through the south you know that a side of grits comes with breakfast, lunch and dinner so grits fit our theme perfectly.  This casserole is easy to put together, very favorable and very filling.  If you do have any leftovers they reheat well.  Grits originated with Native Americans who would grind corn in a stone mill giving it the “gritty” taste.  It was first served as a porridge.  Grits are rich in iron and B vitamins and add fiber to your diet.

Even if you’re thinking…”ewwwww, grits”…keep an open mind and try this dish. We had good friends visiting this weekend and it was our breakfast this morning.  This recipe fed four people with some leftovers.

Ingredients:

3 cups water

1 cup 5 minute grits

1/4 cup butter

1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese

1 pound of breakfast sausage

6 eggs

1/2 cup of milk

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350.  Cook the sausage in a heavy skillet until it is no longer pink  Drain off any grease and set aside.

Shred the cheese.

Whisk together the eggs and milk.  Put a tablespoon of butter in a skillet and scramble the eggs.  Set aside.

Measure out 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Slowly whisk in one cup of grits, reduce the heat and cook for five minutes stirring occasionally.

Once your grits have finished cooking, stir in the cheese a handful at a time until it is incorporated.

Now you’re ready to put the casserole together.  In a 3 quart casserole dish combine the sausage, scrambled eggs, and the cheesy grits.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Top with some additional cheese and pats of butter.  Bake for 30 minutes.

Great served with a little salsa.

NOTE:  When I made this for our family at Thanksgiving I doubled the ingredients and baked it in a 9×13 casserole dish.  As with any recipe, feel free to modify based on personal taste.  The grits are just a little bit creamier if you substitute a cup of milk or half n half for one of the cups of water.  I used a sharp cheddar cheese but feel free to use pepper jack or gruyere or another cheese that melts well and is flavorful since grits are fairly bland on their own.  Also the type of sausage will change the taste.  A spicy sausage like andouille or a sweet sausage like maple links will change up the overall flavor.

I hope this becomes a go-to breakfast casserole for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blueberry Coffee Cake

King Arthur has some really great recipes and this one is no exception.  They called this a Blueberry Breakfast Cake but I think it’s more like a Fruit Danish.  I used blueberries, which the recipe called for, but this would be great with raspberries, apple, peaches…almost any fruit.  Because of the ricotta cheese and sour cream it has a consistency similar to a cream cheese danish.  It is simple to make and not cloying.  Great with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk.

Ingredients:

3 large eggs

heaping 1/2 cup of sugar

6 T melted butter

1 cup small curd cottage cheese or part skim ricotta

1 cup sour cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup AP flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat the oven to 350.  Lightly grease an 8” round pan that is at least 2” deep.  If your 8” pan is too shallow, use a 9” round pan or an 8” square.  Shape really doesn’t matter.

Beat the eggs and sugar together.  And yes, a HEAPING 1/2 cup of sugar.  First time I’ve seen that in a recipe.

Add the melted butter, cottage or ricotta cheese, sour cream and vanilla.  Beat until well combined.

Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder,  add to creamed ingredients, and stir or beat gently until combined.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan and scatter berries over the top.

Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out moist but with no obvious smears of raw batter.  The edges should be lightly browned.  It should appear set throughout but jiggle a little when you gently shake it.  Baking time is between 45 and 50 minutes.

Once it comes out of the oven generously sprinkle the top with cinnamon sugar.  Let it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to firm.  Cut into wedges or squares, depending on the pan you used, and serve warm.

Enjoy!

NOTE”. I baked mine in a 9” round pan for 45 minutes.  I recommend checking it after 40 minutes.  Much depends on your oven and the size of your pan.  I will try this with  a combination of apple and cranberries next.  A little bit of sweet and tart together.   Also, the cinnamon sugar is optional.  Instead you might want to lightly dust with powdered sugar as you serve it or make a glaze and drizzle a little over the cake.

Blueberry Muffins

A few times a year King Arthur Flour publishes a magazine called Sift.  Every time one comes out my friend Jane and I pick up a copy.  So many wonder recipes!  This muffin recipe is from the Spring 2019 edition.  I made these today to accompany our crab meat quiche for a perfect brunch.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar plus 2 T for sprinkling

2 large eggs

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups AP flour

1/2 cup milk

2 1/2 cups  fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 375.  Line a muffin tin with papers and lightly grease the papers.

In a medium bowl, beat together the butter and 1/2 cup sugar until combined.  Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl and beating well after each addition.

Stir in the baking powder, salt, and vanilla.  Add the flour, alternating with the milk, stirring gently until combined.  Scrape bottom and sides of the bowl.  Mash 1/2 cup of the blueberries and add mashed and whole blueberries to the batter stirring  to combine and distribute.

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan.  I used my ice cream scoop.  Sprinkle tops with the remaining 2 T of sugar.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until light golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes.

I served ours with crab quiche but they’re perfect for breakfast on their own with a cup of hot coffee or a glass of milk.

NOTE:  My muffin pans are dark so I reduced my oven temperature to 350.

Thank you King Arthur for your great recipes that inspire!

Quiche with Crab and Asparagus

I haven’t stopped cooking and baking but I haven’t worked on my blog in awhile.  I rely on it myself when I go to make favorites, like this morning when I looked up my granola recipe.  I love sharing my recipes with people and this is the perfect vehicle.  So I will keep on blogging.  It’s Easter weekend and I thought I’d make a special Saturday brunch for the two of us.  I found a recipe for crab quiche and made my own modifications.  Eating brunch this morning reminded my of going to a little seafood place in Chicago near our daughter that serves awesome crab cakes Benedict.  This is an easy recipe that comes together quickly and takes about 50 minutes for baking and 10 minutes for resting so you’ll have time to whip up some muffins or a little green salad to go with the quiche.  Another reason this came together fairly quickly is because I cheated and used a prepared pie crust.

Ingredients:

1 9” unbaked pie crust (your own or one from the grocery)

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup whole milk

2 T AP flour

1/2 tsp salt

Franks Hot Sauce (optional)

5 oz Gruyere cheese cubed

8 oz container crab meat

5-6 green onions chopped

asparagus spears cut into bite size pieces

Preheat the oven to 450.

Roll out the pie crust and line a 9” pie pan, crimping the edges.  Cover with two layers of tin foil and bake for 8 minute.  Remove foil and bake for an additional 5-6 minutes until light brown.

While the crust is baking dice the green onions, asparagus, and cube the cheese.

In a medium size bowl whisk the eggs.  Whisk in the milk, mayonnaise, flour, salt, and a few shakes of Franks.

Gently fold in crab meat, onion,  asparagus and cheese.  Pour egg mixture into the hot pie crust.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325 and bake for 45 to 50 minutes until the edges are puffed up and the center is set.  Allow the quiche to rest for 10 minute before slicing.

Slice and serve!  I made blueberry muffins to enjoy with ours.  And mimosas.  Had to have mimosas.  I had grapefruit juice, my husband had orange.  Both delicious.

I will blog the blueberry muffins next.

NOTE:  As always you can change this up.  Don’t like asparagus, use broccoli or zucchini.  Don’t care for gruyere cheese, use Swiss (almost the same) or cheddar.  Add more Franks or none at all.  Substitute a little cayenne.  Everyone’s palate is different.  It also depends on what’s available in your fridge and pantry.

Pannukakku or Kropsu (Finnish Pancake)

My daughter and her boyfriend attended a beer festival this weekend in Michigan and stayed with friends.  My daughter sent me a text message this morning and said “our friends are making us pannukakku for breakfast!!!”  I asked her if their friends were Finnish and she said no, they had eaten this pancake when they were visiting the Upper Peninsula.  And they obviously enjoyed it.  I haven’t made this in years.  My Mummu (grandmother) made this all the time and it was one of my favorites.  We always called it kropsu.  She had these special pans with a design on the bottom that she would bake the pannukakku in.  We would put a little butter on it and sprinkle it with sugar or ladle on a little fruit soup that she would make.  Usually from blueberries.  It was even good cold; the pannukakku AND the fruit soup.  So, not to be outdone by my daughter’s non-Finnish hosts, I decided we needed to have pannukakku for breakfast today as well.  It is easy to make and is actually a great breakfast to serve guests. You can make a double batch and feed several people.  Why haven’t I been doing this??

Ingedients:

5 T butter

1 1/2 cups AP flour

2 cups whole milk

5 eggs

1/4 cup sugar

Preheat your oven to 425.

Combine the flour, milk, eggs, and sugar.  Use a blender or handmixer and blend or whip until the batter is frothy.

Put the butter pats in a 9×13 pan and put the pan in the hot oven to melt.  The butter should be sizzling but watch carefully so it doesn’t brown.

Tilt the pan to make sure that the hot butter is evenly distributed and pour in the batter.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  As the pannukakku bakes it will puff up and climb the sides of the pan.

Use a knife or toothpick inserted in the center to make sure that the pancake has set up.  Remove from the oven, cut and serve.

I don’t remember eating Mummu’s with syrup but that’s what we used today.  A couple slices of bacon, a glass of juice and breakfast was perfect!  I think the next time we have guests this is what I’ll be serving for breakfast.

I haven’t posted a Finnish recipe in quite awhile.  I hope that you’ll try this.

Steel Cut Oats with Chia Seeds

My dad is going to be 90 in a few months.  His conversations with same age and even younger cohorts frequently revolve around health issues.  Comparing blood pressure, cholesterol readings, everyday aches and pains, medications.  And, as the oldest child of that nearly 90 year old, I realize I’m getting older as I start thinking and talking more about things like colon health, good and bad cholesterol, heart health, etc.  when shopping for groceries and preparing our meals.

I have always liked hot cereals like cream of wheat, oatmeal, and remember malt-o-meal??  I was watching an episode of The Chew a few weeks ago where Michael Symon prepared what he called The Worlds Greatest Oatmeal.  I got online after the show and saved the recipe.  A “simple” breakfast which contained nearly 30 ingredients.  Michael Symon’s recipe uses steel cut oats, chia seeds, coconut oil and coconut milk.

Steel cut oats look more like rice than the rolled oats most of us are accustomed to.  They are less processed, take longer to cook, and have a chewier consistency and nuttier flavor.  Nutritionally they are not significantly different than rolled or instant oats.   Chia seeds are one of nature’s superfoods.  They come from a flowering plant in the mint family and date back to the Aztecs.  They are rich in antioxidants, fiber, iron, calcium and contain more omega 3 than salmon.  They also absorb as much as 10 x their weight in water so they help us feel full and satisfied.  All of that makes this a heart healthy, colon healthy breakfast.

My modified version of The World’s Greatest Oatmeal  uses some of the process and ingredients in Michael Symon’s recipe.  And, to be fair, his 30-ingredient recipe included a blueberry compote and a streusel topping which I omitted.

Ingredients:

1 T coconut oil

1 cup steel cut oats

3 cups water

1 cup full fat coconut milk

3 T brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

2 T chia seeds

Because steel cut oats take much longer to cook than even the old fashioned rolled oats it works best and is most efficient to start this before going to bed.

Heat 1 T of coconut oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat and toast the oats for a couple minutes stirring constantly.

Add 3 cups of water and bring the oats to a boil.  Cover the pan and remove from the heat.  Let the pan sit overnight.

In the morning uncover the oats and stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and 1 cup of coconut milk.

Bring the oats up to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes.  About 8 minutes into the simmer stir in the chia seeds.

Ladle into bowls and top with fresh fruit and a little granola for extra crunch.  (My granola recipe is on my blog.).  I used blueberries but you can use your favorite berries, banana, or diced peaches.

Add a little milk at the table and you have a very satisfying, tasty, stick to your ribs breakfast.

NOTE:  If you prefer not to use coconut milk you can substitute an additional cup of water, milk, or half n half.  You may also want to stir in some coconut flakes or chopped walnuts or pecans.

And yes, the chia seeds in this recipe are the same chia seeds that sprout “hair” on the clay heads sold as Chia Pets.

 

Cinnamon and Cardamom Bread

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This stuff is amazing!  Love!

We just returned from a family vacation to New Orleans.  The land of great food, really wonderful music everywhere, and a plentitude of adult beverages.  And people watching.  We enjoyed poboys, gumbo, oysters, shrimp, catfish and, of course, beignets.  As good as our food was, whenever I get home from a vacation I actually kind of enjoy eating my own cooking again.  Funny how that works.

I had some organic milk in the refrigerator that was going to go south in just a day or so and I wanted to put it to good use.  I decided to make us some bread with my remaining milk and came across this recipe that I had clipped from a Saveur magazine early last year but had not tried.  Until today.  The recipe says the bread is Swedish.  But since I’m Finnish, today it is Finnish Cinnamon Cardamom Bread.  Whatever your ethnicity I think you will enjoy!  The kitchen smelled wonderful while this was baking.

Ingredients for the Dough:

7 T unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups whole milk heated to 115

2 tsp active dry yeast

4 1/2 cups AP flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds, lightly crushed

1/4 tsp kosher salt

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Ingredients for Filling:

1/2 cup granulated sugar

7 T unsalted butter softened

1 T ground cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds, finely crushed

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To make the dough heat the milk to 115 degrees.  Use a thermometer unless you’re a lot better than I am at estimating temperatures and you don’t want to kill your yeast.  Melt the butter and add the butter and yeast to the warm milk.  Stir and let it sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.

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In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, cardamom and salt.  Stir in the yeast mixture until dough forms.

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Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes.  Or knead in your stand mixer.  Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with a clean dish towel, and let sit in a warm place until the dough doubles in size.  About an hour.

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Prepare the filling stirring together the softened butter, sugar, cinnamon and cardamom seeds.

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On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough into approximately a 11×17 rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick.

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Spread the filling over the dough.

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Working from one of the long sides, roll dough into a tight cylinder and transfer the dough to a parchment lined baking sheet.  Cover with a dish towel and allow it to sit in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.  About 45-60 minutes.

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Heat the oven to 375.  Using kitchen shears and starting 1 inch from the ends of the dough, make crosswise cuts spaced 1 inch apart, three quarters of the way through the dough.  Now this is where it got tricky for me and my bread looks a little crude.  The recipe says to fan dough slices away from the center, alternating left to right.  Huh?  The center?  Maybe I was supposed to make this into a circle?  I don’t know for sure because I didn’t have a picture.  But it doesn’t really matter. The fanning does not affect the taste at all.

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Whisk an egg and brush the dough with the egg wash.

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Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Allow the bread to cool before serving.

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I made up a little icing with powdered sugar, heavy cream and lemon zest.  Because we like icing.

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Cut yourself a slice and enjoy.  Great with a hot cup of coffee or tea.

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NOTE:  The recipe suggests that you use the egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar before baking.  Since I was going to ice the bread I did not you the pearl sugar but you may prefer that.  If any of you bake a more attractive loaf please comment with a picture.

Blintzes with Cheese Filling

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About a month ago I brought my Dad home to Michigan’s Upper after he spent the Thanksgiving holiday with me.  A friend came along for the ride and she and I went to Marquette to check in at some of the local breweries and do a little shopping.  Marquette has some great little shops with locally made jewelry, pottery, wood crafts, art, and candy. We made lots of stops.  A candy store called Donkers that’s been in business since 1896.  A favorite restaurant that serves organic and locally sourced foods called Sweet Water Cafe.  A unique grocery called the Flying Moose that sells UP Sushi with venison.  I have never been a mall shopper so I really love the small, locally owned stores in Marquette’s downtown area.  I know this is a convoluted trip to my blintz recipe.  But while we were at a little shop called Touch of Finland I purchased a new sauna stove, a box of rocks, and a great iron crepe skillet.  The sauna stove replaced our old stove that died a few months previous.  The new stove was installed a few weeks ago and is working great!  I seasoned my new iron skillet yesterday morning and decided to make blintzes for brunch.  The skillet is working great!

Blintzes are my sister-in-laws go-to dish for Christmas brunches.  She buys them frozen and heats them up.  Don’t get me wrong, they are good.  But homemade from scratch is better.  Blini is the Russian name for crepes.  Blintzes are crepes that are filled with cheese or fruit and then sautéed or baked.  I’m filling mine with cheese filling and baking them.

Crepe Ingredients:

4 eggs

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup water

1 cup AP flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 T butter melted for brushing the skillet

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Filling Ingredients:

1 cup cottage cheese

6 ounces cream cheese at room temperature

4 T honey

1 egg yolk

1/2 lemon juiced

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Prepare the batter by first whisking the eggs.

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Add all the other ingredients to the eggs and whisk until the batter is smooth.

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Refrigerate the batter for 30-45 minutes.  Heat your skillet over medium heat.  Brush the skillet lightly with melted butter and put about 1/3 cup of batter on the skillet.  Swirl the skillet to distribute the batter evenly and cook for 30-60 seconds.  Flip.  Slide the crepe out of the skillet onto wax or parachment paper and start the process over again.  Repeat until all the batter has been used.  (Makes about 12 crepes.)

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Preheat the oven to 350.

Now it’s time to prepare the filling and assemble the blintzes.  Beat all of the filling ingredients together with a hand mixer.  Brush a casserole dish with butter.  Put a couple tablespoons of the cheese filling on one end of the crepe.  Fold once, then fold the sides in like an envelope and roll.  Place the blintzes in the casserole dish seam side down.

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Continue filling and rolling.  Brush the tops of the blintzes with a little butter.

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Bake for 45 minutes.  I served ours with homemade apple sauce.

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Enjoy!

NOTE:  You can make fruit blintzes with an apple or cherry filling similar to what you’d use in a pie.  You can top your cheese blintzes with fresh berries or sliced banana.  Dust them with powdered sugar.   If you want to make a double batch, crepes freeze well.  Separate the crepes with wax paper and store in a zip lock freezer bag for use later.

The new crepe pan I got is a de Buyer.  It’s iron so it’s an excellent heat conductor.  Best used over medium heat.  I love my new sauna stove and I love my new crepe pan.

Buttermilk Pancakes

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Pancakes are one of the ultimate comfort foods.  Everyone loves pancakes.  Crepes.  Swedish pancakes.  Blintzes.  Latkes.  Pannukakku.  Kropsu.  My grandmother made the best oven pancakes (pannukakku).  Sometimes with egg, sometimes potato.  Potato were my favorites.  She made them in metal pans with a design in the bottom.  The pancake would puff way up in the oven.  We would eat them warm with butter and sprinkle a little granulated sugar on top.  We would eat them cold.  My mother made us pancakes with left over mashed potatoes.  She made a regular egg, flour, milk batter and added any leftover mashed potatoes we had.  Sometimes she would make my little brothers pancakes shaped like Mickey Mouse.  We ate her pancakes with maple syrup.  For years I made my mother’s “mashed potato pancakes.”  They were my daughters favorite.  She loved to make  pancake sandwiches with any leftovers.

A couple years ago I got this recipe for buttermilk pancakes from one of my daughter’s friends.  He was making them for his family so I decided to try them.  I’ve been making them ever since.  Occasionally when I have left over mashed potatoes I revert to my mom’s concoction.  But otherwise, these buttermilk cakes are my go to recipe.

Ingredients:

1 cup AP flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg

2 T melted butter plus more for the griddle

1 1/8 cup buttermilk

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Combine and whisk the dry ingredients together.  Whisk the egg,  Combine the wet ingredients.

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Combine the wet and dry ingredients.  Do not over mix.  The batter will look a little thick and lumpy.

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Heat the griddle and brush with butter.  Use a 1/3 cup measure and scoop batter onto the griddle.  Cook 1-2 minutes per side.

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Add fresh or frozen blueberries, chopped pecans, grated Apple, or chocolate chips if you’d like.

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Serve with warm maple syrup, sliced banana or strawberries, meat of your choosing, or an egg.

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NOTE:  This recipe makes approximately 8 pancakes.  If you have guests and want to double or triple the recipe that works.  Keep pancakes warm in the oven until you’re done flipping and you can all enjoy eating together.  I’m sure that this batter can be made into Mickey Mouse cakes as well!  Make a memory with your pancakes!

Tomato and Cheese Tart

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I have taken a bit of a hiatus from blogging. Not from cooking and baking. But from blogging. My father was visiting for a couple of weeks and I made a lot of very basic meals that he really likes. Potatoes in various forms, pork chops, baked ring bologna, fish, spaghetti and meatballs. And I didn’t blog those dishes. I also spent quite a bit of time recently in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with my dad and cooking in his kitchen is quite challenging. No good chefs knives, an electric stove, and odds and ends of cookware…never exactly what you’re looking for.  You need to be cautious of expiration dates and the spice cabinet has salt, pepper, garlic, Lawrys, cinnamon sticks that should only be used for art projects, and a huge jar of mustard seed. Actually I SHOULD blog from his house because cooking there is more of a challenge but there is also no internet.   Now I’m back home and back to experimenting with recipes as well as blogging old favorites.   In a recent issue of one of my many cooking magazines I found a recipe for a Tomato, Bacon, and Gruyere Tart. I first made this as a savory breakfast dish for guests and later made it as a dinner dish with the help of a friend. Both times I modified the recipe. More modifications the second time. But both times it was absolutely yummy.   Both times I doubled the recipe and made two tarts.  The ingredients listed are for two tarts.

Ingredients:

2 thawed Puff Pastry sheets

1/2 pound bacon cooked crisp, drained and crumbled

2 cups shredded gruyere cheese

1 cup shredded asiago cheese

3 thin sliced heirloom tomatoes

1/2-1/4 cup diced onion

1/2 cup chopped baby portabella mushrooms

1/2 cup thin sliced fresh basil

salt and pepper to taste

1 egg beaten with 1 tsp of water for brushing the pastry

(The second time I made it I added the onions and mushrooms.)

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Preheat your oven to 400.

Roll out the pastry sheets on a lightly floured surface into approximately a 10″x14″ rectangle and transfer to a backing sheet lined with parchment paper.

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Shred the cheeses.

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Leaving a couple inch border on each side sprinkle each sheet with half of the cheeses.   Top with the crumbled bacon, onion, and mushrooms.

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Using a sharp knife or mandolin slice the tomatoes thinly. If you are using heirlooms alternate colors.

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Fold the long sides over and cut small vents. Fold the short ends a little and pinch them together.   Brush with the egg wash.

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Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.   Enjoy every bite. We did!!

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When I served this for breakfast we has toasted cinnamon bread and fresh fruit.

This recipe is only limited by your imagination. You can change up the cheeses and add other veggies like thin sliced summer squash, artichokes, spinach or kale. I think I’m going to make it with gruyere and blue cheese next time.