We're famous!

Chris is in Pennsylvania helping a friend move (he is a good friend).  They had to go to the local Wegmans's for groceries and 'Voila!', in the egg section are recipe cards highlighting our Quiche Caprese! Very exciting stuff. We're famous! Go Egglands Best!


"Semi-Homemade" Cherry Crostata

This week, we officially reinstated our weekly summer dinner with neighbors D and J (and 3-year-old N). When we're in town, we pick a night, split up the dinner duties and share a meal, as good neighbors should. We talk and laugh and drink wine and generally just enjoy each other's company while the sun goes down (or in today's case, the thunderstorm ends).

This week's menu revolved around one of D's Father's Day gifts: Jack Daniels Wood Smoking Chips. Since D and J work during the day while we teachers are home (tee hee), D entrusted us with the chips so we could smoke country-style pork ribs in our smoker. Chris rubbed the ribs with his secret blend of sugar, salt and spices and smoked them for a few hours while making a Jack Daniel's barbecue sauce. Amy made a quick cucumber salad, and together we did a "semi-homemade" cherry crostata for dessert. Some grilled corn and mashed potatoes rounded out the meal. Sounds good, eh?

Everything was delicious - the smoky-sweet tender ribs, the early butter-sugar corn, the buttery mashed potatoes with fresh chives, the vinegary cucumber salad.  We would love to say the dessert stole the show, but that was not the case. Still, it too was delicious. Tart, sweet, and with plenty of buttery crust, it was a fitting ending. Perhaps it was the beautiful fresh cherries that did it? Maybe it was the easy preparation and simple rusticity of the crostata. You can come to your own conclusions if you make it yourself. And if you do, make sure to follow this great tip from Chris:

Use a chopstick to pit the cherries. The pits pop right out, and then you can cut the cherries in half easily.

"Semi-Homemade" Cherry Crostata
slightly adapted from Michael Chiarello's Napa Style


1 refrigerated pie crust
1 pound fresh cherries, pitted (see tip above)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 teaspoons turbinado sugar

Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat it to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Unroll one refrigerated pie crust onto the parchment paper. In the meantime, cut the cherries in half and place them in a large bowl. Add sugar, flour and cinnamon to the cherries and toss gently until well combined. Pour the cherry mixture into the center of the pie crust. Fold the sides of the pie crust up over the edge of the cherries. Beat together the egg and cream and brush this mixture onto the pie crust. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Trim away the extra parchment paper and carefully slide the crostata, with parchment paper under it, onto the hot pizza stone. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes, until crust is golden brown and cherry mixture is starting to bubble. Cool on a wire rack until ready to serve.  


Fried Egg Sandwich Nachos

School's out for summer! And we couldn't be happier or more relaxed already. Sure, we have a few school-related things to take care of still, but generally, we are on a well-deserved vacation, and we started it off right. On the first official day of our summer, Thursday morning, we made "Fried Egg Sandwich Nachos" for breakfast. This yummy dish has all the makings of a fried egg sandiwich (eggs, bacon, cheese), but is in nacho form, sort of like an American-style huevos rancheros.

We started by laying out some nacho chips on an aluminum-foil-covered baking pan. We then chopped and fryed a few slices of bacon and sprinkled the pieces over the nacho chips. Next came the eggs, fried in the bacon fat, sunny-side up because they will be finished under the broiler. We placed the eggs on top of the bacon, then laid strips of American cheese over the eggs and broiled the whole thing until the cheese was melty and the eggs were cooked to our liking (over medium).

Don't worry. We understand that this is not a dish to be eaten often. But it is a dish worthy of the first day of a long, lazy, summer vacation!

Fried Egg Sandwich Nachos
(this recipe makes one plate, enough for two to share)


20-24 nacho chips
3 slices uncooked bacon, chopped
3 eggs
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 slices American cheese

Lay out the nacho chips onto an aluminum-foil-covered baking sheet. In a large skillet, cook the bacon pieces until crispy. Drain onto a paper towel, reserving the bacon fat in the skillet, then sprinkle over the chips. Return the skillet and bacon fat to high heat. Crack the eggs into the skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook to your liking (we did them sunny-side-up because they will cook more under the broiler). Slide the eggs onto the nachos. Cut the cheese into strips and lay the strips over the nachos. Heat the broiler to high and broil the nachos until cheese is melted and eggs are cooked. Slide the nachos onto a plate and enjoy!


Homemade Cracker Jacks

It was a pretty busy weekend for us. Amy's school had graduation Friday night (along with some teacher celebration afterwards), we went to L's birthday party Saturday night, the ribbon cutting for the beautiful new barn at the Coventry Farmers Market (which our neighbor L had a huge part in building) was Sunday morning, then we met Amy's family for lunch to celebrate Father's Day. Sunday afternoon was spent prepping snacks and cupcakes for this afternoon's book club meeting. So when Sunday evening came, and it was time to relax and watch a movie, we wanted an easy, yummy, movie-watching snack. That's where our Secret Recipe Club assignment for June comes in.

Danielle is the author of Delicious Existence. She is a holistic health and wellness coach whose blog promotes a healthy and happy lifestyle in which raw, vegan and vegetarian foods play a huge role. She lists her recipes as "Kitchen Adventures" (which we love!), and they are indexed by picture rather than by name. It was fun exploring the site, but as much as we'd love to say we made something really healthy for us, we didn't. You know us better than that by now. We made her recipe for homemade "cracker jacks." Perfect for movie-watching.

We did make a couple of changes to Danielle's recipe, which made it not quite as healthy for us, but still delicious. We didn't want to buy "vegan buttery spread" just for a couple of tablespoons, so we went ahead and used butter, which (obviously) means our version isn't vegan. And when we went to make it, we realized we didn't have any brown sugar, so we used turbinado sugar. Also, Danielle lets hers cook in a slow cooker for about 45 minutes, while we just did it in a double-boiler, only cooking ours for about 15 minutes. We wanted quick! Nonetheless, nutty, crunchy, sticky and yummy, this snack was exactly what we wanted.

Homemade Cracker Jacks
slightly adapted from Delicious Existence

1 cup organic turbinado (cane) sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons unsweetened apple sauce
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2/3 cup popcorn kernels
2 cups roasted, salted peanuts

In a double-boiler, over medium heat, place the sugar, honey, molsses, butter, apple sauce, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Stir and cook for about 15 minutes, until well combined, hot, and bubbly. In the meantime, make the popcorn by cooking the kernels in the coconut oil (we do ours in our Whirley Popper), or air-pop if you desire. Mix the cooked popcorn and the peanuts in a (very) large bowl. Pour the sauce over the popcorn and peanuts and mix until well coated. Cover a couple of baking sheets with wax paper and spread the "cracker jacks" onto the sheets to cool and harden. Store in an airtight container until ready to eat.


Creole Crab Imperial

We are traveling to New Orleans in about a month and Amy can't wait. She totally has New Orleans on the brain, particularly when it comes to food. Yes, the cravings are starting up - crawfish, Gulf shrimp, beignets, coffee with chicory, red beans, andouille, gumbo, the list goes on and on. This week, it was all about crab, and this recipe was inspired by another food blogger/teacher Chef Dennis. His recent recipe for Crab Imperial looked so tasty and sounded so easy, we decided to indulge our craving and made it ourselves, adding a delicious crunchy butter-and-breadcrumb topping to ours. This classic recipe really allowed the deliciously sweet lump crabmeat to shine through. A touch of Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning gave it that Big Easy kick. With a salad made with romaine lettuce from our neighbor's garden and some delicious fresh bread, this was a wholly satisfying meal. Yum!

Make the imperial sauce

Look at that crabmeat!

Fold in the crabmeat, gently.

Top with buttery seasoned panko and place in oven.

Creole Crab Imperial
slightly adapted and used with permission from A Culinary Journey with Chef Dennis, Maryland Jumbo Lump Crab Imperial

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning (divided)
1 teaspoon finely chopped Italian parsley plus a little more for garnish
1 large egg
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat
1/2 cup panko style breadcrumbs
1/2 stick butter, melted

In a large bowl, mix mayonnaise, sugar, 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning, parsley, egg and lemon juice. Gently fold in the crabmeat, taking care not to break it up. Place crab mixture into a casserole dish. Mix melted butter, remaining teaspoon of Creole seasoning, and panko together and lay on top of the crab mixture. Bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes, until hot and bubbly with a golden brown top. Serve garnished with additional chopped parsley.


Meatless Monday: Spring Onion and Ricotta Fresca Tart

Our Spring Onion and Ricotta Fresca Tart is being featured this week at Meatless Monday. This delicious tart makes the best out of spring's wonderful bounty - spring onions, ricotta fresca cheese, garlic scapes, sage and farm-fresh eggs. Check it out!


Almost Wordless Weekender

5:30AM. Hartford Regional Farmers Market. Nothing but sunrise and flowers.


Cupcake "Red Velvet" Cupcakes

Are you surprised? We readily admit it: we're not known for our baked goods. But when we tasted Cupcake Vineyards' "Red Velvet" wine, all we could think about was making cupcakes with it. So we did. The idea stems from last year's vacation to Maine - last summer, Amy had copied a recipe from People Magazine for "Zinfandel Cupcakes" and we never made them. This recently-discovered wine, coinciding with an upcoming meeting of Amy's book club, was the inspiration for us to try them now. Seriously - doesn't every book club meeting need wine and cupcakes?!? How about killing two birds with one stone?

About the wine: "Red Velvet" wine is a blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Syrah. It has a pronounced taste of chocolate/mocha in itself, particularly on the finish. There is also a lot of fruitiness to it, mostly cherries and blackberries, as well as a hint of coconut. Perfect for cupcakes, right? 

As we often do, we played with the People recipe (just a little bit) and came up with our own version which we tested on the neighborhood. They were a big hit there, where we heard of couples sharing bites on their porch swings in the early summer evening sun. We'll be making them again next week for the book club. And we probably won't change a thing...

Cupcake "Red Velvet" Cupcakes
Makes 24 cupcakes


For the cupcakes:
24 maraschino cherries, stems removed
1 box devil's food cake mix (we used Betty Crocker Super Moist)
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup Cupcake Red Velvet wine
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 cup mini chocolate chips

For the glaze:
6 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 stick salted butter, softened
1/2 cup baking cocoa (we used Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup Cupcake Red Velvet wine

Special equipment: non-stick cupcake/muffin pan with a spike in each cup
Note: We only have the one cupcake pan, so we did this recipe in two batches.

Preheat oven to 325 (350 if your pan isn't non-stick). Place cupcake (muffin) liner in each cup of a regular (12-cup) cupcake pan. Place a cherry on each spike (or in each cup if yours has no spike). In a large bowl, pour cake mix, water, wine, oil and eggs. Mix together as directed on the box. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into lined pan, filling cups about half way. Bake for 20-23 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly, then remove cupcakes from pan onto cooling rack. Cool completely. Repeat process with second batch. In the meantime, make the glaze. In a large bowl, beat together powdered sugar, butter, cocoa and salt using an electric mixer on low speed. Beat in the wine. When cupcakes are completely cooled, cover them with the glaze.