So, I heart brunch. And not the french toast or pancakes, but pretty much anything with eggs! Which is fairly strange, given that I didn’t like eggs as a child unless they were hard boiled, hot, and chopped up with butter and salt or my mom or nana’s very plain deviled eggs (yet I did not like egg salad)! Oh how things have changed! Somewhere along the way, I fell in love with eggs, in pretty much any fashion! And since I am not a morning person and brunch (and eggs) are served until 3pm… I heart brunch!
So a few months ago, my friend hit me up with an invite to go to brunch, and as the brunch expert, I was given the task of choosing a place. Now, I usually don’t make a b-line to “chain” restaurants, with so many wonderful restaurants in Atlanta, but there was something about the Brio brunch menu that had been calling my name! We had a hard time deciding on what to have. We had both narrowed it down to the same two items, the Eggs Oscar and the Frittata Al Forno, so we decided to order both and split them! (Don’tcha love friends?!) Can I just tell you, they were both so freaking good! And, of course, so freaking not good for us! As soon as I tasted them, I instantly thought… I am going to have to try to re-create a healthier version of these!
Let me shed some light on just how lovely this dish is through the description on the menu: “Layered with eggs, angel hair, crisp bacon, onions, spinach, artichoke, Fontina cheese and Parmesan cream.” Yes, please!
Now, I am no expert in the kitchen… especially without a recipe! I probably should have named this blog “Diva Learns to Cook” or “Not a Diva in the Kitchen” or something like that. But despite that, I still have moments where I think I am a cooking genius and just try to throw something together anyway.
Well, people, I am happy to report that I managed to pull together a rather tasty brunch in my own home! See my pics to the left there? (taken on my iPhone, before my new DSLR camera) I couldn’t pick just one! It was super yummy!
The bad news is that I didn’t actually measure anything! I am also 100% positive that I should not have eaten the whole thing! It was definitely more than a serving. And sadly, I also think it was not exactly that much better for me than Brio’s version (check out the amount of sauce I got going on there!), but I think the basic idea here can be tweaked!
So, since I, the wonder-not in the kitchen, can throw this together with out a recipe, then perhaps you can too! Let me tell you what I did:
Baby spinach, fresh
Real bacon bits
Thin spaghetti, cooked
Italian cheese blend, reduced fat, shredded
Parmesan, grated and shaved
Garlic, minced, dehydrated
Evaporated milk, fat free
1/3 less fat cream cheese
I put a small 8″ non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. I added a small amount of olive oil and a pat of butter to the pan. (It would have been healthier to use cooking spray, a tsp of olive oil, and no butter… for next time.)
When the butter melted, I sprinkled in some onion powder (I am not a fan of large chunky onions, and I didn’t feel like doing my usual process of practically pureeing them before cooking them. And I only had some frozen onions on hand, and I would have had to defrost a cup of them… so, yeah, I use onion powder A LOT.)
Then I tore up a handful or two of baby spinach and threw it in the skillet with some bacon bits (you know like the Oscar Mayer Real Bacon Bits, except I used the store brand version), maybe around 2 tbsp, and some Spice World “Squeeze” Minced Garlic. (I love fresh garlic, but this is my usual quick fix.). I let that saute up a bit, but not too much because I knew it would continue cooking, and there were no onions to get translucent.
I had some cooked Ronzoni SmartTaste Thin Spaghetti in the fridge and tried to spread a small amount evenly in the skillet. When I made this a second time, I made it with 2 oz of regular angel hair, and it really was the right consistency, as it sticks together better for a frittata.
I then added some Kraft Shredded Mozzarella with a Touch of Philly and some Sargento Shredded Reduced Fat 4 Cheese Italian Cheese (Mozzarella, Provolone, Romano and Asiago). (I am pretty sure I put more than necessary… I’ll measure next time!)
I cracked an Eggland’s Best Cage-Free Egg into a bowl and added some AllWhites Egg Whites and whisked together and poured it over the cheese, pasta, bacon, spinach mixture in the skillet. Unfortunately it didn’t quite cover it, so I pour in some more egg whites to cover it, but with cheese still showing on the top. I covered the skillet and let it cook, checking it a few times. I have no idea for how long.
While that was cooking, I put together the “Parmesan cream.” I eyeballed about 1/3 cup maybe of Carnation Fat Free Evaporated Milk and put some grated Parmesan cheese in a bowl. I wisked it together, and then added about 1 Tbsp 1/3 less fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel cheese) in small pieces. I put it in the microwave on 50% power for 1 minute. I whisked it up again, and added a little bit of pre-shaved Parmesan and McCormick Garlic Sea Salt (that would be the minced dehydrated garlic and sea salt in the ingredient list) and a little more evaporated milk. After another whisk, I put it back in the microwave on full power for 30 seconds, and whisked it again. It came out a nice creamy consistency. I’d say just add evaporated milk until it’s the consistency you want. It gets cold and thick quickly, so be sure you do this right before the frittata is almost done.
Back to the frittata… when it looked mostly set except for the top, and the edges were getting crispy, I pulled it off the heat, flipped on the broiler on the oven, and threw it in. I kept it in there until the top got browned and bubbly. Don’t forget to pull it out with an oven mit, and make sure you use a skillet with a handle that can withstand up to 450 degree heat.
The frittata easily released from the pan onto a plate. I cut it into 4 pieces, just like Brio did, and tried to stack them sort of like Brio. I had to whisk up the sauce because it did get a little thick, and poured it over the frittata pieces. I actually had a little bit left over, and resisted scraping the sides of the bowl to get it all on the plate!
I am thinking a real “serving” of this thing is 1/2 the recipe, but I didn’t think it would re-heat well, and I was starving, so I ate it all. I skipped an actual lunch though! And well, as much as I love artichokes, I left them out because I didn’t want to open a whole can just for a few pieces for this recipe, and quite honestly… I didn’t miss them! When I made this a second time, I used about 5 artichoke hearts from a box of frozen artichokes, and it was still just as delicious!
So, suggestions for next time… no butter, less cheese, more spinach, add artichokes, whole grain pasta, smaller serving, measure ingredients! And someday, I hope to actually post a real recipe with those measurements and actual nutritional stats, so I know what I am putting in my mouth (and you do too)!