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At the beginning of the month, I resolved to simplify every aspect of my life, including the number of items and ingredients I keep stocked in my kitchen. That's because I've discovered that in cooking, as in life, sometimes less equals more!
One unintended consequence of this newfangled declaration? I've suddenly been eating far more meatless meals made from pantry staples (think beans, lentils, eggs, and grains). My favorite dish as of late has been a Mediterranean-North African twist on eggs in purgatory, prepared by baking eggs in a slow-simmered onion-and-tomato sauce spiced heavily with cinnamon, allspice, and cloves.
Baked eggs of any sort are often thought of as a brunch dish, but I actually love to eat this any time of day, dinner included; the faraway flavors of the sauce make this dish the perfect way to end a long day. Keep reading if you want a recipe for cinnamon-spiced eggs.
This recipe can also be made for a crowd using a large shallow baking dish instead of individual-sized cazuelas.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced small
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice, drained (reserving juice) and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Coarse salt and ground pepper
8 large eggs
12 long shavings (about 1 1/2 ounces) pecorino Romano cheese
Slices of crusty bread, for serving
1. Preheat oven to 400º F. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat; stir in onions and sauté until translucent, about 10 minutes.
2. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, several minutes.
3. Stir in tomatoes; add red pepper flakes, ground cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and sugar. Turn heat down to low, then simmer until tomatoes have further broken down, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Using a ladle, transfer sauce to four 6-inch shallow gratin dishes or cazuelas. Crack 2 eggs into each dish. Bake until whites are set, about 25 minutes, rotating halfway through (yolks will still be runny).
5. Top each dish with three long pecorino shavings; serve immediately with grilled bread.