Spinach and Cheese Egg Strata and Thinking out of the Cooking Box…

Hi everyone and please click on the title of this post to read more. First off, you can get your tickets for the blowout PWR fundraiser for Little Kids Rock at www.parentswhorock.com

Well, I have been having some trouble balancing all my various activities with providing quality time with my family lately. As I was feeling the pressure, I decided to think out of the box; I decided to combine some quality time with my eight year old with attending my various meetings and social obligations. In just a couple of weeks, my daughter has been my date to a town council meeting, 2 planning meetings with H.S. students who want to hold their own fundraiser with Parents Who Rock to raise money for music in the public schools (more details on that in a later post) and a Parents Who Rock concert/fundraiser last night held at someone’s home.

She and I are able to be alone together which is difficult with four small children and she feels special and grown up going on these outings. She has been getting so confident that she asked if she could bake cookies for the H.S. students ‘ meeting and she and I presented them to the kids who loved them (see their reaction and hers in the video below). It was her secret chocolate chip cookie recipe from a previous post.

Just as with cooking, it is totally doable to be organized and prep and plan our meals if we think out of the box. For example, maybe we can combine socializing with a friend by going food shopping together or if we have a Dr.’s appt. somewhere, find out beforehand if there are stores nearby that have interesting items where you can pick up different ethnic ingredients for a special dinner. We don’t need to stay in the same shopping /cooking routine. That is sure to put us in a rut.

It’s time to think out of the box for brunch! Here’s a nice alternative to the delicious but boring bagels and cream cheese brunch that only requires work the night before that is adapted from some recipe I found  in a mag years ago-it’s that easy!

Spinach and Cheese Egg Strata (a strata is a casserole but casserole sounds trashy whereas this sounds elegant):

* 1 (10-oz) package frozen spinach, thawed and water squeezed out
* 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (1 large)
* 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmegor already ground nutmeg
* 8 cups cubed (1 inch) French or Italian bread
* 2 cups coarsely grated Gruyèreor swiss (or cheddar but the first two are best)
* 1 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
* 2 3/4 cups milk or heavy cream or 1/2 and 1/2-NOT SKIM!
* 12-13 large eggs
* 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Preparation

Squeeze handfuls of spinach to remove as much liquid as possible, then finely chop. Cook onion in butter in a large heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in spinach, then remove from heat. Spread one third of bread cubes in a buttered 3-quart gratin dish or other shallow ceramic baking dish and top evenly with one third of spinach mixture. Sprinkle with one third of each cheese. Repeat layering twice (ending with cheeses). Whisk together milk, eggs, mustard, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl and pour evenly over strata. Chill strata, covered with plastic wrap, at least 8 hours (for bread to absorb custard). Preheat oven to 350°F. Let strata stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Bake strata, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving. Your guests will LOVE this!

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