Ryan and I spent this weekend at a beautiful cabin in the woods in Deep Creek, Maryland. Along with eight friends, we celebrated Tony’s birthday (he was a groomsman in our wedding) in the gorgeous mountains with all the beautiful autumn leaves changing colors around us. We played charades and I am not the kind of person that enjoys being in front of an audience (even one of close friends) but it was still so much fun. To keep the cost of the long weekend down, each couple was assigned a meal to prepare. I volunteered for breakfast and produced the spread you see above. I made pumpkin cream cheese muffins, a walnut-crusted monkey bread, an egg strata, assorted fruits, with orange juice and mimosas. This was my first time cooking a breakfast meal for a group before so not everything went as planned. I’ll walk you through my experience…
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins. I picked up this recipe from About.com. I followed it precisely and as you can see, my muffins look nothing like the picture they posted. My muffins never had the cream cheese filled center, it all cooked and rose to the top of the muffin. And then my crumb topping was not crumbly at all and it separated to end up looking like an uncooked cinnamon roll. The flavor was good and they were moist, but they were not impressive by any means. I won’t use that recipe again.
Walnut-Crusted Monkey Bread. This recipe I got straight from Pillsbury. This is something my Aunt Maggie made for me and my cousins as a child. Then my mother made it and then I would make it as a I grew up. I LOVE MONKEY BREAD. Butter, cinnamon, and sugar. What is better than that? Nothing. I tweaked the posted recipe a little in that I switched the Pillsbury GRANDS! for Crescent Rolls and I add walnuts to the dish to add some crunch. I have made this several times and I WILL make it again, and again, and again. I can’t wait to make if for my own kids one day.
Egg Strata. This one posed a serious challenge for me. This recipe comes from my Mother-in-Law and it is a holiday recipe she uses because it is meant to be made the night before and then in the morning, you just bake it and it’s done. It requires no time in the kitchen on Christmas morning, which is a blessing for any woman. Anyhow, I made this dish the night before, then put in a cooler to transport it to the cabin. The seal on my Tupperware was not great and it ending up dumping all the milk and eggs into the cooler. I panicked as I unpacked the cooler, then just cracked open some more eggs and dumped more milk into the dish. The next morning it baked to perfection and was delicious. Here’s the simple recipe for the Egg Strata.
Orange Juice and Mimosas. Now this is where things got ugly. After I spent a decent amount of money on fresh fruit and all the necessary ingredients for the above dishes, I wanted to save some money so I bought store-brand frozen orange juice concentrate. DO NOT EVER BUY THIS STUFF. It doesn’t taste like orange juice, and it mildly has some orange flavor. I was embarrassed to serve it. So I caved and bought some fresh Tropicana from the grocery store that morning. (I am from Florida and I have had fresh OJ my whole life, I should have known better than to buy the concentrate) The concentrate wasn’t a total loss, we found that when champagne was added, it became a delightful breakfast treat. Disaster averted.
Overall it was a breakfast success and our friends ate it all up. I was very pleased that they enjoyed it all.
I have a confession to make. It is my belief that good food is only so good if it isn’t served beautifully and I believe that everything I do in my home and life should be done with excellence and beauty. That’s why I packed some of my favorite silver trays and platters on this trip to the mountains along with the super cute and practical dish tags you see in the picture. Those will be available at my Etsy shop soon. I can’t wait to share those with you!
Happy Fall Day,