Egg Boats!

One of the special things about owning a restaurant is the opportunity to bless others through what we have to offer. I love getting to be part of our community and of people’s lives just by doing what I do. We are often arranging dine-to-donate nights to benefit local charities and organizations.  (some examples)

We are also able to donate meals to those less fortunate through the Salvation Army and my church. It is such a great thing to be able to meet people’s needs through my daily work.

One of the things we do is to provide a breakfast meal for the worship leaders at my church. My church has been such a blessing to me. It has supported and loved me through some really difficult times and they are great supporters of The Olive Branch. This Sunday morning breakfast is a small way to give back to a really special community.

We try to be creative in the meals we offer them. It is really easy to get stuck in the pastry rut. I mean, doesn’t everyone eat donuts on Sunday mornings? LOL To combat repetition we try to get as inventive as possible with what we have in the kitchen. Sometimes it is a little like pretending to be on “Chopped…” But, you know, with normal ingredients!

One Sunday morning I opened the refrigerator to find some leftover twice baked potatoes. Score!!! I scooped out the seasoned filling,


lined the potato with a strip of cooked bacon,

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shredded cheese and cracked an egg on top.

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I popped the potato/egg “boats” into the oven and cooked them until the egg was done and the potato was reheated.  While baking, I reheated the potato filling in the microwave and scooped it back on top of the egg boat.  An instant breakfast favorite!

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These would be perfect for a breakfast buffet or a kid friendly brunch. Next time you are baking potatoes toss a couple of extra into the oven. They will keep (unwrapped) in the frig for several days. Then you can create some of these breakfast treats “on a whim” one Saturday morning. Your family and friends will think you’re a genius!


Ask Leah – Freezing Dough for Later Use

My freezer can be one of my greatest allies in the kitchen. Whether I’ve made too many enchiladas or the amount of chili simmering on my stove top has reached unacceptable proportions, I can always pop my leftovers into a tupperware container and save it for later – assuming there’s room!

By now we know all the countless meals that are freezer-friendly, but what happens when you are in the middle of making bread or a similarly delicious dough and simply don’t have time to finish the baking process? Is freezing dough acceptable in the culinary world?

Whether you don’t have time to wait out all the necessary risings for your dough, or you’re sending a friend a take and bake pizza, popping dough in the freezer can save time and energy. The key to freezing dough is freezing it before the second rising, depending on how many times it rises. For example, if you’re making bread dough, freeze it after you punch it down and shape it. This is the same concept as baking canned doughs – Pillsbury rolls are simply packaged before their second rising, allowing you to cook them whenever you have the time.

This method works well with breakfast items like cinnamon rolls. It’s easy to make the dough and freeze it the night before, then bake them in the morning after sleeping in a bit. You’ll have everyone thinking you slaved away all morning making a delicious homemade breakfast!

If making a dough is too time consuming for you, you can still experience the joys of your freezer with hearty dishes like casseroles, enchiladas, or lasagna. Any dish with a lot of moisture freezes well. Dishes with a lot of mayonnaise, such as chicken or tuna salad, cooked fish, and eggs do not freeze well.

If you find you have the time, try making two batches of your casserole or hearty meal. Leah often enjoys making two dishes, serving one that evening and freezing the other to give to a friend.

Ask Leah

Happy Friday, friends! What better way to kick off your weekend than with a new addition to the blog? For all those curious souls out there, here is your chance to ask Leah all the culinary questions that have been on your minds. Starting today, Leah will tackle a new question on Mondays and Fridays related to cooking, baking, and the simple joys of food. After all, cooking should be a delightful experience and an informed cook is a happy cook!

And who am I, you might be asking? My name is Bonnie and I’m the Olive Branch social media intern. I have a love for tasty treats and building positive relationships with others, so I am incredibly excited to be sharing Ask Leah, tweeting and Facebooking with y’all on a regular basis!

Now, let’s move on to the question of the day:

What does one do with leftovers? How long can I keep them before they go bad?

(Leah gets this question a shocking amount, so much so that she wrote a blog about it in October 2009!)

So you brought home a steak from a restaurant, or you have uncooked chicken that’s been sitting in your refrigerator for a few days and you’re wondering if it’s still safe to eat.

A good rule of thumb is if it’s been inhabiting your fridge for more than seven days, cooked or uncooked, throw it away.

If it starts to grow mold or change colors, throw it away.

If your fridge is warmer than 42 degrees (check with a refrigerator thermometer), throw it away. Bacteria thrives between 40 – 140 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s incredibly important to ensure that cold foods stay cold and hot foods stay appropriately warm.

If that uncooked chicken sitting in your fridge is nearing its expiration date, cook it and then freeze it to extend it’s shelf life.

If it’s been sitting on your counter for more than four hours, don’t risk it.

Most importantly, if you’re concerned about it, then throw it out! Odd odors, colors, mold simply aren’t healthy. Don’t risk being out of commission for days due to avoidable food poisoning. Shockingly, most food poisoning happens at home rather than in a restaurant.

Next Monday, Leah will address all your cookie baking woes. Chocolate chip cookies turning out crispy and flat rather than fluffy and gooey? Leah has the answer!

Stay safe, friends and happy cooking!