April 16, 2013

What's for Breakfast?

When my girlfriend called to tell me some of her family was coming to visit, I couldn't wait to host a meal for them at my home! As the schedule solidified, breakfast emerged as the front runner, so I started menu planning.

Now, the catch was, between the food allergies, preferences, and lifestyles amongst the seven guests, here's what I knew going in:
  • 4 cannot eat eggs
  • 1 is vegetarian
  • 1 is dairy-free
  • 1 is gluten-free

How did I come up with a menu?

I decided to serve everything buffet style to keep it simple & relaxed, giving everyone the freedom to pick and choose

Second, I stuck with my rule of only cooking two menu items from scratch and preparing/assembling the rest.

Third, I came to the conclusion that not everything served had to be a viable option for every single person.

Here's what I came up with:

Cranberry & Almond Granola Bars (recipe below)
Easy Sticky Buns (recipe below)
Assorted Fresh Bagels
with choice of Vegetable Cream Cheese, Butter & Preserves or Peanut Butter
Hard Boiled Eggs
Fresh Strawberries
Sparkling Water

Complete with New York-themed favors for our out-of-town guests, it was a simply fabulous way to spend a Saturday morning with friends!

Who's next?!

xx JN

Cranberry & Almond Granola Bars*
adapted from Barefoot Contessa
*naturally gluten-free

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed
1/2 cup toasted flax seed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (or Earth Balance if making dairy-free)
2/3 cup honey
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.

Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the flax seed.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Place the butter (or Earth Balance), honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the cranberries and stir well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into bars. These work beautifully individually wrapped for a great snack on the go! Serve at room temperature.

Easy Sticky Buns
from Barefoot Contessa

12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
½ cup pecans, chopped in very large pieces
1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted

For the filling:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a 12-cup standard muffin tin on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 12 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Place 1 rounded tablespoon of the mixture in each of the 12 muffin cups. Distribute the pecans evenly among the 12 muffin cups on top of the butter and sugar mixture.

Lightly flour a wooden board or stone surface. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right. Brush the whole sheet with half of the melted butter. Leaving a 1-inch border on the puff pastry, sprinkle each sheet with 1/3 cup of the brown sugar, 1½ teaspoons of the cinnamon, and ½ cup of the raisins. Starting with the end nearest you, roll the pastry up snugly like a jelly roll around the filling, finishing the roll with the seam side down. Trim the ends of the roll about ½ inch and discard. Slice the roll in 6 equal pieces, each about 1½ inches wide. Place each piece, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry to make 12 sticky buns.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden to dark brown on top and firm to the touch. Allow to cool for 5 minutes only, invert the buns onto the parchment paper (ease the filling and pecans out onto the buns with a spoon), and cool completely.

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