Sunday, October 27, 2013

Shrimp & Grits

Shrimp & Grits

Shrimp & grits are a total brunch comfort food, perfect for those chilly autumn mornings.

I've had this dish at a number of brunch spots, but decided to try and make my own at home. It's really easy to make and like the best brunch foods, good at any time of the day!


  • 1 cup of corn grits (I used Bob's Red Mill)
  • 4 cups of water
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 clove raw garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon oil (I used coconut oil)
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli (including stalk)
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (or juice of 1/2 small lemon)
  • 2 cups of cooked shrimp (I used Trader Joe's frozen cooked shrimp)
  • 1 cup of cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, or mix of choice)
  • butter to taste --about 4-5 nice big pats


Add salt & pepper to water and bring to a boil. Add in grits, turn heat to low, and stir to prevent lumps.

While the grits are cooking, heat oil and cook garlic & onion until they start to brown. Add in lemon juice & broccoli. Add in shrimp. Cook over a medium heat until broccoli is tender & shrimp is fully heated.

Once grits are cooked, turn off heat and add in the butter and cheese. Stir to combine. Pour grits into 4 bowls and top with shrimp mixture. Serve at once.

Serves: 4

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Duck Egg Scramble

Farmers markets are wonderful things. The produce always lasts longer because it hasn't had to travel across the country and sit on a pallet before reaching you. The produce is always in season. Sometimes you run into a neighbor or friend. But my favorite thing about farmers markets is discovering new foods. 

Today I discovered duck eggs. The stand I was planning to buy chicken eggs from had run out, but they still had some duck eggs. A bit unsure of what to expect, I decided to take the plunge and try them! The people from Canter Hill Farm assured me that they were delicious -- richer than chicken eggs and good for baking.

They were right. I just made the most delicious, rich, amazing duck egg scramble. But don't take my word for it, try the recipe for yourself!

Duck Egg Scramble with pomegranate seeds


Duck Egg Scramble


  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 1 tablespoon of oil (I used coconut)
  • 1 small bunch (about 1 cup) of raw broccoli, chopped (including the stock) 
  • 1/4 cup raw cranberries, chopped
  • 3 duck eggs
  • ounce or two of cheddar cheese, crumbled (optional)
  • lemon pepper 



Heat oil in frying pan over medium heat. Add onions, and stir until they start to slightly brown. Lower heat a little. Add the broccoli, and continue stirring. Add in cranberries.

Once the broccoli starts to tenderizer, push the veggie mixture to one side of the pan. Crack the 3 duck eggs in the space you created. Stir the eggs until it starts to be cooked. Add lemon pepper to egg mixture. Once eggs are almost cooked, blend with everything else. Once eggs are fully cooked, add the cheese and mix in to melt. Stir everything together over low heat for a few more seconds, and serve immediately with fresh fruit.

Serves: 1

Monday, June 17, 2013

Caramelized Pear and Carrot Soup

Caramelized Pear & Carrot Soup

Caramelized Pear and Carrot Soup

Before dining at Tapas on Main in Bethlehem, PA, I had never heard of Caramelized Pear and Carrot Soup.  But it was so delicious that I had to try to make it myself!

Well I did, and a brunchmate who "doesn't eat soup" just inquired, "is there any more?"



1 tablespoon of coconut oil
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 ripe Bartlett pear
4-5 carrots
1 cup vegetable broth
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cooked apple-chicken (or faux chicken) sausage, chopped (optional)
ground black pepper & slivered almonds for topping (optional)


Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add in onions and cook until they start to caramelize. If using sausage, add it in now. Chop the pear into large chunks and add to pan.  Cook until pear starts to soften & becomes juicy. Break carrots into smaller pieces and add, turning off heat so they do not really cook yet.

In high speed blender (Vitamix is ideal), pour in vegetable broth. Then add in the pears, carrots, and onions. Retain approximately 1 tablespoon of the onions and the sausage.

If your Vitamix has a soup setting, run it on that. If not, then run mixture until smooth & creamy.

Once done, carefully remove lid and add in a dash more of salt to taste, the remaining onions, and the sausage. Pulse on low for about 10 seconds to combine.

If you've used the soup setting on Vitamix, pour into bowls and serve. Otherwise heat over stove and then serve. Top with ground pepper & almonds.

A sweet springtime soup that's sure to please! For a summertime meal it probably would also taste good as a chilled soup topped with Crème fraîche!

Tapas on Main, Bethlehem PA

Recently I had a weekday brunch (okay, it was lunch) at Tapas on Main in Bethlehem, PA. It was a beautiful spring day and my brunchmates and I sat outside. They have a lunch special where you can order two out of three options: soup, salad, sandwich for $9.99.  

Their menu helpfully noted what items are Vegan and Gluten Free, saving both the waitstaff and diners much trouble!

For the first course I tried the Ensalada Verde (normally $8.95), served with fresh green apples, lightly candied pecans, a high quality Valdeon blue cheese, and fig balsamic dressing it was delicious.

One brunchmate ordered the Ensalada de Remolacha (normally $8.95), a beet salad with Serrano ham, arugula, and a delicate blood orange vinaigrette. At first he thought the wrong salad was delivered because the beets were hidden underneath everything else, but once discovered he was quite happy.

Another brunchmate left not a single drop of her  Tomato Soup with Manchego Croutons (no longer on the current menu).

For my second course I had the Caramelized Pear & Carrot Soup. A sweet soup with a delicate flavor, it reminded me of a lighter version of the ever popular butternut squash soup. It was so delicious that I inspired to create my own version of this soup. I will write out the recipe in an upcoming post because it was so incredibly good!

My brunchmates both ordered the Carne Burger (normally $9.95). A juicy beef burger with tetilla cheese, a fried egg, lettuce, tomato and chipotle ketchup. Both had completely clean plates and were seriously debating ordered another burger to go....

All in all, a perfect excuse to go visit the very cute downtown of Bethlehem, PA. I know that I'm looking forward to my next visit.

If you go:
  • 500 Main Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018
  • Phone: (610) 868-8903
  • They accept credit cards.
  • Tapas on Main

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Chocolate Raspberry Baked Oatmeal

A recent visit to Lancaster County, PA reminded me of a dish that's quiet popular in this part of the world: baked oatmeal. For some reason I haven't found this treat on brunch menus....well, anywhere else that I can recall. I decided to try my own twist on the classic:

Chocolate Raspberry Baked Oatmeal


2 cups of oatmeal (GF brand--such as Bob's Red Mill--as needed)
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/3 cup of maple syrup or 1/3 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of coconut milk
*3 eggs 
3 tablespoons of coconut oil (or butter)
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1/3 cup of fresh or frozen raspberries
1/3 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
fresh cream (optional)


Preheat over to 350 F.

Coat an 8x8 pan with coconut oil and set aside.

In a large bowl mix together the dry ingredients.

Melt the coconut oil (or butter) and whisk together with the remaining wet ingredients (except for the cream).

Combine wet & dry ingredients, adding in the raspberries & chocolate. Pour into pan and bake for aproximately 40minutes. 

Serve warm with fresh cream.

Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish or dessert.

*(for vegan version, skip the eggs & add 1 extra cup of coconut milk & 1 tablespoon of chia gel) 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Whole 30 - Day 9 - Thanksgiving Cups

Today marks day 9 for my Whole30 eating.  

I adapted a twist on the "Egg muffin" recipe that I've kind of fallen in love with. The only thing that could possibly make these any better may be adding a bit of coconut milk to the batter, I'll have to experiment and let you know the results!

Thanksgiving Cups


12 eggs
1 tablspoon of chopped onion
1 cup of ground turkey meat
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
1/4 cup cranberries (fresh or dried)
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
dash of salt
cupcake wrappers or extra oil to grease the pan


Preheat oven to 350.
Caramelize the onions in coconut oil. Remove from pan and set aside. Add a little bit more oil and cook the turkey meat.

In a large bowl, whisk 12 eggs. Add in the onions, turkey, cranberries, pumpkin pie spice & salt.  Pour into muffin tin (I used cupcake wrappers to make cleanup easier and better for eating on the go). 

Bake for approximately 20-30minutes. Allow to cool in the oven, or else your muffins will fall flat like mine did...

Enjoy these little bites of Thanksgiving on the spot, or store in air-tight container in the fridge. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Whole 30 - Day 7

Scrambled Eggs with Onions and Avocado

 Day 7 of Whole30 eating. 

 For breakfast I cooked red onions and garlic powder up with some coconut oil. Once they had started to caramelize (about 3 minutes over medium heat), I added 4 eggs and stirred until almost mostly cooked.  In the last minute I added 1/2 of a ripe avocado.
Served with 1/3 can of pineapple chunks. Drained the pineapple juice and squeezed some fresh lime into it.  Delicious and filling! 

Kiwi, carrot, nuts

Lunch today was a bit skimpy. I had planned to make something else, but forgot to cook it and got hungry first. Really more of a snack, but it filled me enough until dinner. 1 carrot, 1 kiwi, and about 1 cup mix of almonds, pistachios, and macadamia nuts.


For dinner, I cooked swordfish for the first time ever using this recipe: Swordfish with Avocado Salsa. The avocado that I had was starting to go bad, and I did not have much avocado to add so I also threw in the rest of the canned pineapple, really good!

I also made the most delicious creamed cauliflower ever.


Take 1 head of cauliflower, broken into flourets and steam it until tender. Remove and throw into vitamix or blender. Add water or canned coconut milk as needed to blend. Blend with salt, pepper, and garlic power until creamy and smooth.

Brunch Philly 2013: Whole30 and more!

Welcome to 2013. With all the New Year's Resolutions and new starts going around, it seems like January is as good a time as any to experiment with new foods. Last year, I tried eating only raw foods for a week. You can read about it here: Brunch Philly's Raw Food Experiment 2012.

This year, I've embarked on something much longer and personally bigger. But let me back up a minute. For health reasons, I've unfortunately had to eliminate gluten from my diet. It's not something that was easy to do and not something that I would be doing if I could avoid it. But after (finally) following my doctor's advice to remove gluten from my diet for 30 days, the results were obvious. I'm hoping that with enough time, someday I may be successfully able to incorporate it again.  But for the time being, I've been eating wheat-free since August.

This makes brunch a bit different, since my favorite brunch foods are the sweet ones: stuffed french toast, pancakes, crepes.... yet you may have noticed that in my most recent reviews I've ordered the eggs. But 2013 has brought an even bigger change.

Some additional health issues have lead me to a place where my body just doesn't feel like me. I needed a "reset" button. Through the wonder of the internet, I stumbled across Whole30. It's a fairly specific plan for 30 days that promises renewed energy levels, no more food cravings, and more.

Brunchmates can attest to my love of all things dark chocolate. The idea of removing it almost entirely from my diet for 30 days (with the except of baking cocoa to be used as a spice), was bittersweet. Cravings gone? Sign me up. Dealing with cravings until they're gone? No fun.

But the need for a reset was strong. So I signed up for Whole30 a week ago today.

I considered doing it as a vegetarian. I had been one for 9 years. But ultimately I decided that if I was going to do this, I was all in. So, yes, I've started eating some limited meat again. This has reminded me why I became vegetarian to begin with: I'm not really a fan. That said, I've decided to stick with it for 30 days and then reassess because so far my body is a lot happier.

This blog entry has gone on long enough, and without enough photos, but a few final things:

1. After the first 3 days of eating only foods approved on the Whole30 list, I am happy to report that indeed, food cravings are gone. And along with it the urge for late night snacking.   While I do really look forward to Day31 when I can eat some chocolate again, I'm already planning to include it on a much more limited basis.

2.  I will be updating Brunch Philly with photos & recipes that I'm trying. Similar to the Raw Foods Diet, one of the best things I find about these food experiments is that it challenges me to cook with new ingredients and expand my horizons in the kitchen. Take for instance tonight, I cooked swordfish for the first time ever along with an amazing creamed cauliflower dish and some homemade pineapple-avocado salsa! I promise that I'll be sharing recipes soon.

3. There are some much bigger things in the works for Brunch Philly. I cannot say more about it just yet, but we (yes, I've lured some brunchmates to join me in this project) have some pretty big things in store for 2013. So if all goes according to plan I'll have some pretty exciting news to share in a few months time.... Stay Tuned!

Down Home Diner in RTM, Philadelphia PA

In August 2012, some brunchmates and I enjoyed a laid back, delicious week-day brunch at The Down Home Diner.  Here is the previously unpublished review:

In the mood for a southern-style breakfast? Looking for a child-friendly dining experience? Looking for a good starting point as a tourist? Look no further than the Down Home Diner located in Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market.

Asparagus & Mushroom Scram
On a recent visit, I order the Asparagus and Mushroom Scram ($6.99), "barnyard fresh eggs scrambled with asparagus and mushrooms." Deciding that I was in the mood for some decadence, I  added cheddar cheese as well. The asparagus was fresh and cooked to a perfect consistency.  Overall an A+ omelet with the surprise bonus of a slice of watermelon! The potato hash-browns had a nice crispy edge-to-soft middle ratio, but otherwise did not stand out.

Country French Toast

 One brunchmate tried the Country French Toast ($6.99). It's nothing fancy, and could have probably used the addition of some fresh fruit or berries, but the thick yet airy slices are a good quality toast.

Another brunchmate tried the Corn Hoe Cakes with Turkey Sausage ($7.99). The sausage was flavorful and "far more substantial that other turkey sausages I've met. In fact, I might not have been able to tell the difference if I hadn't know. " The corn hoe cakes were very light, similar to a buttermilk, but had sweet corn throughout!

Corn Hoe Cakes with Turkey Sausage

My youngest brunchmate shared her parent's meal, but had her own glass of water. Our server was thoughtful enough to bring a glass for her that was only partially full so there were no fear of spills!

If you're looking for a quality diner experience in the heart of center city, look no further than the Down Home Diner!

If you go:
  • 51 North 12th Street  Philadelphia, PA 19107
  • Phone: (215) 627-1955
  • They accept credit cards.
  • Down Home Diner Website