Archive for April, 2012

Mushroom Lover’s Eggs Benedict

Handy kitchen work and creative thinking from We Are Not Martha takes a classic brunch staple, eggs benedict, and gives it a modern, tasty twist.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve judged restaurant brunches on their eggs benedict. If eggs benedict is on the menu, without a doubt I order it. While traditional eggs benedict is almost always heavenly, I get even more excited if I spot a bit of a variation. Like crab cake eggs benedict because that’s as far as restaurants tend to go. They just don’t seem to get very creative with this brunch item, probably assuming, “Why mess with a wonderful thing?” While I generally agree with that sentiment, I’ll answer you why, “To make it even better!” And better comes from the addition of mushrooms. Enter Mushroom Lover’s Eggs Benedict.

There are many things that can take eggs benedict to the next level, but there are some essentials in my book. The English muffin must be replaced with a biscuit. I knew I’d be baking biscuits for my Mushroom Lover’s Eggs Benedict and decided to pack the biscuits full of crimini mushrooms to add to the flavor punch. Instead of laboring over a hollandaise sauce, I whipped up a simple mushroom sauce to top the benedict. I also replaced the ham with a layer of lightly sautéed kale for an added tangy touch. The egg remained the same, perfectly poached with a beautiful runny yolk.

You want your eggs benedict to be packed with an earthy flavor that brings comfort to your soul, making you feel right at home with your loved ones for the rest of your weekend afternoon.


Mushroom Biscuits (makes about 12):

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 oz chopped crimini mushrooms
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cup milk

Benedict with Mushroom Sauce (makes 2 serving of benedict):

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon marsala wine
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup torn kale leaves
  • 4 biscuits from above recipe


Mushroom Biscuits:

1) Sauté the mushrooms in olive oil over medium heat, until softened.

2) In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, salt and pepper.

3) Add the chilled butter into the flour mixture and work it into the mix with a pastry blender or your fingers, until the mixture resembles coarse sand.

4) In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. Add to the flour mixture and mix until it’s just incorporated.

5) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop about 1/4 cup of dough and place on baking sheet. Continue placing dough about 2 inches apart.

6) Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, until biscuits are just turning brown.

Benedict with Mushroom Sauce:

1) Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add the mushrooms and sauté until they’re softened. Stir in marsala wine, cooking for about 1 minute.

2) Add in milk and flour. Whisk vigorously until sauce thickens, about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper then remove from heat.

3) To poach eggs, bring water to a boil in a large skillet with vinegar. Crack eggs into two bowls (2 in each) and gently drop into water. Remove skillet from heat and cover. Let eggs cook for 5 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon to paper towel-lined plate.

4) Heat olive oil in small skillet. Put kale in skillet and sauté until wilting and a tiny bit crispy. Remove from pan.

4) Put 2 biscuits on each plate, flat side up. Top each with kale and a poached egg. Spoon mushroom sauce over the top.


A Special Easter Brunch Menu

Easter Sunday was always one of my favorite holidays while growing up. As a child, I would get decked out in my finest Easter attire to go to the sunrise church service: white shoes, hair pulled back in a perfect pink bow and a little pastel-colored purse that perfectly matched my outfit. Following service there was an Easter egg hunt (I was usually the champion) and a large family brunch, served with coffee and dessert. Brunch would take place at my family’s house or a nice restaurant if it was a year when no one wanted to clean up, and it was an aspect of the Easter tradition that I genuinely loved.

I can picture the brunch spread now – eggs with morel mushrooms, ham, bacon, toast, hashbrowns and pancakes! Did I mention that I come from a large Italian family that always served an abundance of food?

Some of the most special family memories come while breaking bread together, so here are some delectable Easter brunch menu ideas sure to please the ones you love!

  1. Roasted Portabella Eggs Benedict – This recipe is an Easter brunch must-have and requires three main ingredients: portabellas, hollandaise sauce and eggs. Bring them together and “Voila!” you have a gourmet meal.
  2. Tip O’ The Mornin’ Omelet – Don’t let the name mislead you, this isn’t an Irish omelet! It mixes asparagus and morel mushrooms, which are plentiful in the spring, for a truly satisfying start to the day.
  3. Mushroom Scramble – This is a great option for a more traditional morning menu. Serve several mushroom lovers by doubling the recipe, which calls for eggs, crimini and oyster mushrooms, unsalted butter, thyme and kosher salt. Pretty simple.

What is your favorite Easter tradition? Is it brunch, like mine?

Spring Clean Your Diet

Take a fresh approach to spring cleaning from Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S.,R.D. suggestions to recommit to healthy eating habits!

Summer’s coming and headlines touting slimming diets and swimsuit-ready bodies remind us that we’ll soon be trading in our wool and fleece for more revealing clothing.

Don’t hit the panic button just yet. Instead, take a fresh approach to healthy eating. Spring clean your diet, and reset your attitude about what it takes to nourish your body while losing weight.

For me, spring cleaning is more than an activity; it’s a state of mind. It renews my enthusiasm for cooking for my family, and for feeding myself right. When my kitchen is clean and organized, I’m more likely to prepare healthy meals and snacks and resist ordering take-out.

First, You Clean

I hate to clean, but I love the rewarding results. It’s best to give your kitchen the once-over before restocking it for healthier eating. Here are some tips.

Purge. I don’t like to throw away food because it’s costly and wasteful. But there are some foods that must go, like the half-eaten chocolate Santa from Christmas, the leftover chips that call my name, and those mystery leftovers lurking in the back of my ‘fridge.

Pitch foods with questionable safety, too. Food kept too long or at improper temperatures can breed bacteria capable of making you and your family sick. It’s not always possible to tell if a food has spoiled by its smell or appearance, so if you have any doubt about how long you’ve had the food, throw it out.

Clean. Chances are that your refrigerator could use a deep cleansing. I like to use a combination of two tablespoons baking soda and one quart of warm water to scrub down walls and shelves with an abrasive sponge.

Arrange. Check the use-by dates on canned and boxed foods. Arrange cabinet and refrigerator shelves so that items with sooner use-by dates are at the front. That way, they get used first and are less likely to go to waste.

Stay cool. Purchase reliable thermometers for your refrigerator and freezer. Make sure your refrigerator is at 40˚F or less and your freezer is at 0˚F or colder. Check temperatures often because they can fluctuate, especially in warm weather. If temperatures get too high, adjust the controls.

Refresh Your Diet, and Your Family’s, Too


Once your kitchen is clean, fill it with ingredients for easy and delicious meals. Having healthy ingredients on hand for meals and snacks saves time and money.

Keep your cupboards supplied by posting a shopping list on a bulletin board or the refrigerator. Write down what you need as you use it up.

The following list of healthy ingredients is a guideline for stocking up to make food preparation a snap. Add and delete items to fit your family’s needs.



Breads and Grains

• Whole grain bread, such as whole wheat English muffins and rolls, whole wheat naan, whole wheat pita bread, and whole wheat tortillas

• Pasta, regular and whole wheat

• Quick-cooking fortified brown rice, fortified white rice, whole wheat couscous, and farro

• Whole grain crackers

• Quick-cooking oatmeal

• Whole grain breakfast cereal

• Prepared thin pizza crust

• Frozen whole grain waffles


Fruits and Vegetables

• Fresh vegetables such as mushrooms, dark leafy greens, carrots, and green beans

• Fresh fruit, such as bananas, grapes, and strawberries

• Frozen, plain fruits and vegetables, such as corn, peas, and blueberries

• Unsweetened applesauce, and canned fruit in its own juice, such as pineapple

• Canned “no salt added” or reduced-sodium tomatoes

• Jarred marinara sauce

• Reduced-sodium canned beans, such as garbanzo, or dried beans

• Dried fruit with no added sugar, such as raisins


Dairy Foods

• 1% low-fat or fat-free milk

• Low-fat cottage cheese

• Reduced-fat shredded cheeses, including cheddar, and cheese sticks

• Plain, low-fat yogurt, Greek or regular


Meat and Other High-Protein Foods

• Whole roasting chicken (keep one on hand in the freezer)

• Boneless, skinless chicken breast

• Lean ground beef (90% lean or leaner)

• Pork tenderloin

• Frozen shrimp

• Garden burgers

• Canned light tuna fish and salmon in a pouch

• Tofu

• Peanut butter or sunflower seed butter

• Nuts, such as walnuts, peanuts, and almonds

• Sunflower seeds

• Large eggs



• Balsamic or red wine vinegar

• Tub margarine with no trans fat

• Olive and canola oils

• Ketchup

• Reduced-fat mayonnaise

• Mustard

• Reduced-sodium soy sauce

• Reduced-sodium chicken broth and reduced-sodium beef broth

• Salsa

• Lemon juice