Monday, February 24, 2014


this isn't the latest gimmick from your local red-roof pizza place.  This is an idea I had while considering options for our 'breakfast for dinner' night.

It starts as any standard fritatta made with sausage and veggies, then topped with marinara and cheeeeeese!!!


2 Large eggs

4 Egg whites

3 oz. Sausage, Pepperoni, or other meat (I used smoked venison brat)

½ c. Red bell pepper, cut into strips

¼ c. Onion, chopped

½ c. Mushrooms, sliced

½ c. tomato puree or marinara

1 oz. shredded mozzarella

Pinch of red pepper flake (optional)

1 tsp. Olive oil

Salt/Pepper to taste


Turn on oven broiler.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium/high heat and add olive oil and meat. After 2-3 mins add veggies, salt and pepper (and optional pepper flake); stir to combine.  While the meat and veg cook whisk eggs and whites together thoroughly and pour into pan.  Let the eggs begin to set without stirring them or moving the pan.  After 2 minutes carefully slide eggs under broiler; cook 3-4 mins. Remove from oven and top with marinara and cheese, place back under broiler to melt the cheese.

Let the frizzatta rest a few minutes before slicing and serving.

Boom. Enjoy!!


Sliced into 4 pieces each piece will be 150 calories with 8/6/14; fat/carbs/protein in grams

Welcome back

After over two dormant years, welcome back to the mbrace food blog.  I hope you enjoy the content and return frequently for further updates of recipes, reviews, and the occasional gratuitous food photo.

This delightfully delicious bloody is courtesy of Roberta's in Brooklyn.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Inspiration on Demand

I was looking for inspiration for dinner the other night and I didn’t have to dig too far into my memory to come up with one of the best dishes I’ve ever eaten…

…It was a birthday meal about 2 months ago at a great little restaurant in Madison called Jacs Dining and Taphouse. I ordered the pan seared duck breast over a blackberry balsamic sauce, it came with roasted Brussels sprouts and sage barley. I had only eaten duck one other time that I could recall, and had never tried the sprouts before so I was excited for this meal. It lived up to every expectation; the duck was a perfect medium rare, the sprouts were roasted such that they had a delicious char on the outer leaves, and the sage barley was a wonderful match to the dish. All that being said, the real star of this dish was the sauce. It was sweet and tangy, and the perfect compliment to the duck…

…so back to the dinner in question, I began to recall this birthday dinner and wondered if I could recreate something similar in my own kitchen. Having chicken breasts readily available I opted to go with those rather than duck. I also happened to have quinoa on hand so that would be the barely. The sprouts I was fairly confident I could pull together, although my experience working with them is limited. I’m providing the recipe I created due to my overall satisfaction with how this recreation experiment turned out.

*The recipe is fairly extensive with different cooking methods and times. In order to ensure that all the pieces of the meal finish together read the entire recipe prior to starting. I recommend starting the sprouts and quinoa at the same time and about halfway through the cooking time for those items start the chicken.

Blackberry Balsamic Sauce over Lemon Marinated Chicken with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Quinoa.

4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thawed
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, stem ends removed and halved lengthwise
1c. Quinoa
2 c. Chicken broth
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1 Lemon (1 tbs. zest + juice)
2 Scallions, chopped
½ c. Blackberries
½ c. Balsamic vinegar
¼ c. Water
1 tbs. Sugar or raw honey
½ c. Flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 Sprig Rosemary, chopped
Olive Oil
Salt (1tsp. + extra to taste)
Pepper (1/4 tsp. + extra to taste)

Marinade: In a large zip-top bag or mixing bowl add zest and juice from lemon, rosemary, garlic, 1/4c. olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well and add chicken to bag, or pour over chicken in a shallow dish to ensure complete coverage. Let chicken marinate for 20-30 minutes. *This marinade is highly acidic and could begin to ‘cook’ the chicken, if you see the exterior of the chicken beginning to turn white; it’s time to get them in the pan.

Sprouts: Preheat oven to 400*F. Arrange Brussels sprouts on a sheet pan flat side down. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for approx. 20-30 minutes or until leaves begin to become charred, stirring occasionally. *I tend to keep reserved bacon drippings in the fridge and will apply some to the pan in an application like this.

Quinoa: In a medium sauce pan add quinoa, chicken broth, ½ tsp. salt and a few turns of pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to med/low and cover for 15-20 minutes, until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, stir in scallions and parsley, and cover. Fluff with fork prior to serving.

Chicken: Place a heavy bottom or cast iron pan over med/high heat on the stove top and add a few rounds of olive oil. Remove chicken from marinade and add to pan, cooking for approx 15 minutes or until cooked through, turning once.

Blackberry sauce: In a small sauce pan add blackberries, vinegar, sugar/honey and water. Bring contents to a slow simmer, reduce heat and cover for 15 minutes. Break down blackberries in mixture (I usually use a potato masher for this). Strain mixture through sieve or fine mesh strainer reserving liquid and discarding the strained seeds and skin. Return the strained liquid to the pan and put over medium heat, reduce liquid by 50% or until sauce thickens. *If you find the sauce gets too thick, incorporate water a teaspoon at a time until desired thickness is achieved. Also, this sauce could be prepared ahead of time and kept in the fridge.

Tips, tricks, suggestions:
Try this recipe with skin-on chicken thighs, start skin side down in the pan, turn once and let the cooking finish in the oven!
Toss the sprouts with minced garlic and bacon!
Add additional herbs to quinoa to boost the flavor!
Steeping the sauce with a teaspoon of minced ginger or a few whole cloves will bring in a hint of spice!

Again, as always, comments and criticisms welcome.  Enjoy!!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

You Say Meringue, I Say Pavlova

     Today I’m presenting a recipe for a meringue or ‘Pavlova’ (Named in honor of a Russian born ballet dancer sometime in 1920’s.) So if you want to sound pretentious or impress your foodie friends go ahead a wow them with that gem. On to the recipe…

     They say the third time’s a charm; whoever ‘they’ are might be right. I attempted a similar recipe to this one a while back and was unsuccessful. It was a spur of the moment, off the cuff attempt to make a flourless dessert in order to create a tasty, creative, gluten free dessert. (Gluten free seems to be all the rage these days, so it’s nice to have a go-to if such a need arises.) I walked away from that attempt defeated and read up on some other similar recipes and felt compelled to give it another try. My second attempt was close to successful but not exactly what I was looking for. Determined, I went back to the drawing board and simplified the recipe and focused on the technique. The real key to this recipe, I found, is beating the eggs properly and monitoring the baking closely.
2 Large Eggs Whites
½ Cup Sugar
½ tsp. Vanilla Extract

1 Cup Fresh Berries. (I used raspberries this time)
1/2 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Sugar

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. and place rack in the middle. Prep a sheet pan with parchment paper or silicon baking mat.

In a medium mixing bowl separate eggs and either discard the yolks or set aside for another recipe. Cover with plastic wrap and let egg whites come to room temperature (about 20 mins.) as this will aid in the whipping process. Begin to beat egg whites on medium until frothy; at this point gradually begin to incorporate sugar slowly, I sprinkled about 1 tbsp. at a time until all the sugar was in the mix. Add vanilla extract. Turn up the mixer to med/high, and beat until shiny and stiff peaks form.

**What are stiff peaks? – When you turn your mixer off and pull the beaters up straight out of the mixture peaks will form on the end of the beaters, turn your mixer 90 degrees and stiff peaks will hold their shape on the beaters. If the peaks sag or drip, continue beating.

So now you’ve got stiff peaks, distribute the mixture on the prepared sheet pan creating approximately six individual ‘cakes.’ Place pan on the middle rack and bake at 250 for 45 minutes. When the 45 minutes is up turn off the oven, and slightly crack the door and allow cakes to cool in place. This will ensure the crispy exterior while maintaining the creamy marshmallow inside.

**Side note – if you notice a lot of syrupy droplets forming on the surface of the cakes while they are cooking that is a sign of overcooking, and if there is liquid oozing from the edges of the cakes, this is indicative of undercooking. Make sure to monitor closely as you may have to adjust your cooking time accordingly.

To make the topping – Combine sugar, water and half of the berries in a small sauce pan, cover and put over medium heat. As soon as the mixture begins to simmer, and form bubbles on the top reduce heat to the burner’s lowest setting. Let the syrup steep for about 5 minutes and then strain with a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds. Remember that the syrup will be thin while it’s still warm, it will thicken when cooled.

At this point you’ve got a fruit syrup fit for a variety of applications; put it in your tea or other drinks, use it in smoothies or milkshakes, or kick up your yogurt.

**Optional embellishments: Add a touch of freshly grated cinnamon, clove or ginger for a spicy kick, steep the syrup with orange zest or a dash of balsamic vinegar, or rather than water start with your favorite variety of tea for a complex flavor.

**MORE side notes – if you want more syrup to store and use later, simply increase all the quantities proportionally. The syrup is simply a 1:1 ratio, the fruit and/or flavoring is complete up to your personal taste.

Serving suggestions – Top cake with remaining fresh berries and syrup, sprinkle with shaved/chopped mint dark chocolate. (pictured) OR top with mixed fresh fruit and a dollop of whipped cream OR drizzle with chocolate sauce and sprinkle with candies. The possibilities for serving this dessert are essentially endless at this point.

     One final bit of advice, as with any recipe, don’t get too discouraged. If it doesn’t come out right the very first time, take time to research and recognize where improvements can be made and when you’re ready give it another try. It’s always a learning experience in the kitchen regardless, win, lose or draw.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Evolution of a Recipe

     I know, I know it’s been a while…like, a loooong while since I blogged about anything but after a long weekend of good food I’m feeling a bit inspired. This installment will deal with one of my most favorite recipes in the entire world. Taco Soup.

     This recipe (like so many other great ones) was introduced to me by my mother and is a great way warm up from any winter adventure or enjoy durring the big game. I’m not really sure where she found it, but if I had to venture a guess I’d say either Cooking Light or Better Homes & Gardens.

The original recipe is very basic and simple and absolutely delicious, looks something like this …

1 lb. Ground beef, chicken, turkey, browned and greased drained.
1 - can crushed or diced tomatoes
1 – can kidney beans
1 - can of corn
1 - can green beans
1 - Taco seasoning packet
Tortilla Chips
Shredded Cheese

     Literally this is it, you brown/drain the meat, throw it in a crock pot or slow cooker with all of the other ingredients (including all the liquid from the canned veggies) and let it cook on low for 8 hours or more. Serve in a bowl topped with cheese and the chips on the side (to act as the crackers you might have with a traditional chicken noodle soup).

     The first time I made this dish I stuck to the recipe and was very pleased with the results, but since that time I haven’t made it the same way twice. Therein lies the beauty of this recipe, it’s so versatile. There’s really no right or wrong way to make this dish, it’s all based on personal preference of flavors so go nuts with it! I’ll give you a few of the varieties I’ve used in my preparation.

     Sometimes I want it a bit thicker than a soup so instead of using all of the liquid from the veggies I’ll drain off the cans and add a bit of tomato paste. For best results I suggest adding the paste to the meat just after draining off the grease, let it heat through and add your can of tomatoes to this mixture while still in the skillet. This will really help the tomato paste to thicken the sauce rather than sitting like a lump in the bottom of your crock pot. I almost always forego the taco seasoning these days also, I tend to use my own combinations of spices including ground cumin, red pepper flake, chili power, coriander, salt, and pepper. These ingredients should also be added to the meat mixture in the skillet in order to bring out their full flavor potential. A few other quick and easy variations are, using black beans instead of the green beans, adding sautéed onions and peppers, try different varieties of peppers for varying degrees of spiciness, and top with sour cream or guacamole.

My most recent incarnation is as follows (I would say this recipe is moderately spicy, leave out the serranos for a milder bite)…

1.5 lbs. Ground meat (half chicken, half turkey)
1 – 28oz. can, diced tomatoes in juice
1 – can, red kidney beans
1 – can, black beans
1 – can, corn
1 – medium onion, diced
1 – red bell pepper, diced
2 – Serrano peppers, diced
2 – jalapeno peppers, diced
1 – clove garlic, chopped.
4 Tbsp. Olive Oil

Spices/Herbs list: Ground cumin, Chili Powder, Coriander, Red Pepper Flake, Salt, Pepper, Thyme, Oregano.

     Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; add 2 tbsp. oil followed by ground meat. Heat for 12-15 minutes or until cooked, stirring occasionally. When meat is cooked through, add 1 tbsp. each of cumin and chili powder along with 1 tsp. of coriander, red pepper flake, thyme, oregano and a pinch of salt/pepper. Let this mixture cook for another 3-5 minutes stirring often to incorporate spices. Transfer this mixture to crock pot. Put the skillet back on the burner and add 2 tbsp. oil along with onions, peppers (all three) and garlic. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and sauté these veggies for 4-6 minutes, until soft and add the same combination of spices and herbs; add veggies to meat in the crock pot. **Yes, you can absolutely cook the meat and veggies together in the same skillet, I personally don’t have a skillet big enough to accommodate this volume of ingredients.** Drain off liquid from canned veggies through a sieve or colander, reserving the liquid in a separate bowl. Add drained veggies to crock pot and stir thoroughly to incorporate.

     At this point, what you do with the reserved liquid is totally up to you, here is what I chose to do with it. Add liquid to the hot skillet in order to deglaze, or pick up all the little stuck-on, left behind bits in the pan. Simmer to reduce this liquid by about half (3-5 mins.) stirring frequently. Add liquid to crock pot, let cook for at least 4 hours and I would recommend 8+ hours as the flavors will become more fully developed with time. I generally plan ahead and make it at least one day in advance.

Serving suggestion: Top with freshly chopped cilantro, dollop of sour cream and a few slices of avocado.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Incredible, Edible, Egg(plant)

     I’ve had eggplant in my garden for each of the last three summers, and I have yet to even being to tap into the potential of this great ingredient. With every fruit I harvest I look for a new way to prepare it and looks as if I could grow eggplant for twenty years and not make the same dish twice. Click here for just a small taste of the possibilities for the eggplant, via The Food Network. It is probably not the most widely known, or utilized ingredient in American cuisine but the possibilities are certainly limitless with this violet veggie. There are only few main varieties that are readily available in the vast majority of grocery stores but a morning at the local farmer’s market or a trip to the local specialty foods store could yield any number of beautiful heirloom varieties with colors as varied as the shapes.

     The recipes and preparations of the eggplant are just as diverse as its shape and color. It perhaps holds up to as many different preparation strategies and cooking techniques as any vegetable. Deep fried, grilled, roasted, pureed, as an appetizer, side dish or a main course, it’s good in soups, stews, sandwiches, pasta, salads, dips, sauces… (did I mention the virtual limitlessness of the eggplant?) It can even act as the dish itself!!  Not only are you going to get great flavor and a wide range of applications, but the health benefits of eggplant should be just as appealing. It’s a good source of folic acid (cancer prevention) and potassium (helps brain/nerve function) as well as helping to fight off the formation of those pesky free radicals!

     I hope this short article will inspire next time you're at the market to embrace the eggplant.  As always, save yourself some time and find a recipe that appeals to you before you go to the market, I find that to be the best way to be sure you have all the ingredients on hand.

A couple of my Listada de Gandia variety

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


     Here are two videos that will cover everything you never thought you needed to know about knife and cutting board selection as well as many useful cutting techniques. Each video is about 10 mins. long.

Good Eats - American Slicer pt.1

Good Eats - American Slicer pt. 2

     I can tell you this from experience, after getting a new knife you may not realize how dull your previous knife really was so start slow.  Try to speed up and get too fancy and you may have a hard time the next time you're hitchhiking or trying to hail a cab. OUCH!

My two favorite knives, 6" Chef's knife and 7" Santoku.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The First Post

     The objective of this blog is to be a platform for me to share my passion for food and drink.  Content is sure to include recipes, restaurant reviews, demonstrations, links to outside sources, photographs, updates on my personal garden, and other tips and tricks in and around the kitchen. 
     I hope to update this page at least once a week with whatever inspires me and I hope to inspire you to embrace food as well.  Any and all feedback is welcome!!

Here is a few examples of the photography from my personal garden...