Balancing Act

Mixing healthy and decadent dishes can be a recipe for a delicious and satisfying meal.

As we enter a new year, many people may be thinking of ways to prepare more healthful and nutritious dishes. But since life is all about balance, sometimes we also need the indulgence of something delicious and decadent.

Two great options for a breakfast or brunch would be this rich and indulgent Overnight French Toast Casserole with Bourbon-Maple Syrup and a delicious and healthy Kale, Onion, Pepper & Potato Frittata. This delightful dish offers a one-two punch, as eggs are a great source of protein and kale helps activate your body’s natural detoxifying enzymes, which can help ward off lung and stomach cancers.

These two options also offer a great mix of flavors and are relatively easy. You can do a lot of the prep work in advance for both, which means you will have more time to spend with your friends and family members.

With the casserole, I recommend buying your bread the day you plan to put it together, so it does not become crusty. I like to use Cuban bread in thick slices, which really soaks up the maple syrup, butter and brown sugar. You can put this together right before you’re ready for bed, so it has time to set up overnight. Then, in the morning, take it out of the refrigerator and let it sit for 10 minutes before you pop it in the oven. Once it comes out, top it with your pure maple syrup, vanilla and bourbon mixture and then sprinkle with powdered sugar. You can either garnish with pecans and fresh berries or set up toppings in bowls so that your guests can choose their own.

Both adults and kids love this dish. For the adults, I like to serve either espresso or dark roast coffee to balance out the sweetness. For those who prefer something more savory, the frittata offers a great option and you can modify it in so many ways.

This recipe actually has more vegetables in it than eggs, but you can customize your fillings. If, for instance, you’d rather skip the potatoes and you love mushrooms, adding some wild ones would be a great way to add some more protein. If you’re not a kale fan, you could substitute chopped spinach. Personally, I’m a big fan of sausage in frittatas, so you could add some to your veggie mixture. If your kids enjoy certain vegetables over others, poll them on which ones they would like. They might also vote for a meat lover’s version. There are so many variations, such as using sweet potatoes instead of white or gold ones. Go ahead and make it your own!

A lot of the prep work can be done in advance, like slicing your peppers and onions the night before, and having your potatoes already boiled and sliced. That way, you’re literally only spending maybe 10 minutes with it in your cast iron pan on the stove before you put it in the oven to brown.

If you are serving the frittata for brunch, I love to roast fresh tomatoes, topped with parmesan cheese as a side, but you could also serve a healthy salad. For those who want to add another layer of flavor, serve it with sides of salsa, guacamole and sour cream. And don’t forget the wine, such as a nice Chardonnay, or mix up some mimosas.

Overnight French Toast Casserole with Bourbon-Maple Syrup

12 (1-inch-thick) slices of fresh Cuban bread, or a baguette; discard the ends
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup pure maple syrup, divided
1 cup chopped toasted pecans, divided
1 1/4 cups whole milk
6 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons (1 oz.) bourbon
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
1 teaspoon orange zest plus 1 tablespoon fresh juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Powdered sugar
Fresh blueberries and/or raspberries (optional)

Lightly coat a 13-inch x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. > Stir together brown sugar, melted butter and 1⁄4 cup of maple syrup. > Spread the mixture in the bottom of the baking dish and sprinkle with 3⁄4 cup of the pecans. > Arrange bread slices evenly on top. > Whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, orange zest, cinnamon and one teaspoon of vanilla and pour over bread slices. > Cover and chill for at least 8 hours. > Preheat oven to 350°F. > Remove baking dish from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. > Bake uncovered until top is golden brown; about 35 minutes. > During final minutes of baking, combine bourbon, 3⁄4 cup maple syrup and 1⁄4 teaspoon vanilla in a saucepan and stir and cook over low setting until warm. > When ready to serve, sprinkle the entire casserole or individually plated portions with powdered sugar and pecans, and berries if desired. > Serve the bourbon-maple-vanilla syrup on the side.

Kale, Onion, Pepper & Potato Frittata

6 ounces goat cheese
4 whole eggs
3 egg whites
2 cups potatoes, boiled and then sliced
1 pound kale, trimmed, blanched 3 minutes in boiling water, drained, squeezed and coarsely chopped
1 sweet onion, sliced
1 large red pepper, sliced
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Cooking spray
Salsa or other side dishes (optional)

Heat oven to 400°. > Coat a cast iron skillet with cooking spray. > Cook onions and peppers in skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes. > Add kale and stir, for about 5 more minutes. > Add goat cheese then the sliced potatoes and stir . > Whisk eggs, egg whites, water and paprika in a bowl, then stir into the veggie mixture. > Cook over medium-low heat for about 1 minute. > Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the eggs are set and the center is slightly runny, about 6 to 8 minutes, then broil until the top is golden, about 1 minute.

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