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French Toast Alert System Raised To HIGH!

Rolled Stuffed French Toast Final

The French Toast Alert System has been raised from Elevated to High, as we are expected to get anywhere from 6 to 15 inches of snow tomorrow. If you were lucky enough to get to the store and buy your milk, eggs and bread before the shelves were cleared out, here’s your french toast recipe. Bonus cute sous chef.

Originally posted January 2014

This is a very simple recipe, but I needed a helper, for sure. All you need for this recipe is a good quality bread – I used 12 slices – 2 eggs, 1/4 cup milk, dash of cinnamon, dash of salt, 8 oz of cream cheese, strawberry jam and powdered sugar. You can spread anything you want on the bread, go for your favorites. I think peanut butter and jam would be really good.

Step One: In a bowl, add eggs, milk, cinnamon and salt and beat well.

Step Two: Roll the bread flat, just not too flat, so it’s easier to roll up.

Easy Peasy

Step Three: Spread cream cheese and jam in the center of the bread. Don’t get too close to the edges, because you don’t want it to squish out when you roll up.

Jam and Bread

Step Four: Roll bread up. You’ll want to do all of them before you start dipping and cooking.

Suisse Chef

Step Five: Melt butter in a skillet (adding more as needed as you cook)

Ready to dip

Step Six: Dip bread rolls one at a time quickly into the egg mixture, don’t let them soak. Then add them to the pan.

Rolled French Toast

Step Seven: Cook over medium heat, turning as each side browns, until the whole rolls is golden brown. Remove and immediately dust with powdered sugar. Repeat until all rolls are cooked.  We served 4 with twelve rolls and it was more than enough.

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Dinner Menu: Pineapple Rice Bowls and Chocolate Torte

Pineapple rice2In an odd series of events, I was thinking about focusing on rice for this week’s recipe exchange and then pineapples were on sale  – less than a dollar a piece – which reminded me of this recipe which I haven’t make in quite a while. So tonight I made it for dinner for friends.

And just in time for National Chocolate Cake Day, the menu includes…CAKE!

Here is the original post from January 2011 (where does the time go?)

Tonight I’m putting together a menu from two different restaurant visits. Last Friday night Bad Horse and I were in Santa Monica looking for somewhere to have a late dinner. I wanted something light at a place that was neither trendy nor pretentious. Harder to find than you might think. We settled on a cute little Thai restaurant on Wilshire, near the beach. They had pineapple rice on the menu and that sounded like it would fit the bill. I was pleasantly surprised by the dish. First, they served it in a pineapple, which made me laugh and second it was hands-down better than the Ming Tsai recipe I posted a few months ago. I vowed to go home and recreate it. That is our main dish tonight. The dessert comes from a little Italian restaurant near my house where LFern and I had lunch, I believe for my birthday this summer. I ordered their always excellent carrot cake and she decided to try their chocolate torte. We both really liked the torte (ours is a friendship based on coffee and chocolate) and I said I’d try and recreate it for her. It’s 5 months later, but I finally got around to it.   Hopefully it will not disappoint her – I really liked it and had fun making it, twice.

On the board tonight:

  1. Pineapple Rice
  2. Snow Peas
  3. Chocolate Hazelnut Torte

Pineapple Rice

  • 2 pineapples (if you’re making bowls, otherwise just one pineapple)
  • 4 cups cooked rice (about 2 cups uncooked) – I chose brown basmati
  • 4 strips of bacon, sliced into small pieces
  • 1 boneless chicken breast, diced
  • 8-10 small shrimp, cleaned
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup cashews (I like lots, your mileage may vary)
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 cup diced pineapple
  • 1/4 cup Ponzu

Wok or skillet

The reason I really like this recipe is how fresh it is. The last pineapple rice was heavy on spices and all the flavors blended together. It was good, but this one, with only pineapple juice and bit of ponzu added, really lets each flavor shine. Their version did not have bacon, but I love bacon and pineapple together, so I added it. You can omit the bacon and fry the chicken in a tablespoon of oil instead. Personally, my shrimp ends up on Bad Horse’s plate, so I consider them an optional ingredient.

Coring the pineapple can be tricky. A friend has a pineapple corer and I wished I had one while I was making this recipe. You don’t need to serve it in pineapple bowls, but if you do, coring out the pineapple can be difficult. I cut off the stem to make a flat bottom, cut the pineapple in half, took out the core, scored the pineapple and scooped it out. By the time I was done, the rice had finished cooking, so it was time consuming.

Next you’ll want to fry the bacon until crisp, add chicken and fry on medium heat until it is cooked through. Add shrimp and let cook for 3-5 minutes, add remaining ingredients (including rice), mixing well over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. You want the pineapple and raisins to be warm, but not necessarily cooked. Serve in pineapple bowls with ponzu or soy sauce. Serves 4

Snow Peas

I served these raw because I liked the crisp contrast to the main course. You can lightly steam them if you desire, or even add them to the rice dish for a true one-dish meal.

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte

  • 12 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tbsp milk or cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 7 eggs
  • 3 tbsp Frangelino (opt)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven at 375 degrees. Butter a 10-inch springform baking.

With this recipe, I made it two different times. The first time I separated the eggs, beat the whites until stiff and folded them in last. The second time I just beat the whole eggs until they were frothy. I actually liked the texture better the second way. You can do either. The directions below are for the latter cake.

In a medium saucepan, whisk the chocolate, milk and butter together over low heat until a smooth mixture forms. Set the chocolate mixture aside to cool.

In a blender, beat eggs well. Add sugar, blending until the mixture turns thick and pale yellow. Add the Frangelino and gradually add the cooled chocolate mixture, blending slowly until combined. Add baking powder, vanilla and nuts and mix until just combined.

Bake for 45 minutes, turn oven down to 350 degrees, then cover with foil and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on rack until completely cooled. Serves 12 small portions

Shopping List:

  • 2 pineapples (if you’re making bowls, otherwise just one pineapple)
  • 2 cups white rice
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 1 boneless chicken breast
  • 8-10 small shrimp, cleaned
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 cup diced pineapple
  • 1/4 cup Ponzu
  • Snow peas
  • 12 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 7 eggs
  • 3 tbsp Frangelino (opt)
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped

Also: baking powder, vanilla, sugar, milk or cream,

Tidbits

20151208_142431 (1600x1060)Just for a fun exercise, I did this pork shoulder as a confit.  (Not sure of the grammar on this – confited, ala confit, something else?)  Submerged the butt in olive oil and ran it at 250 until the temp in the middle reached 200 degrees, about 5 hours iirc.DSC_1525 (1600x1060)After it cooled down I pulled the shoulder apart and stowed it in a plastic bag, saving out enough to reheat in duck fat for some sandwiches.  These are on my mini-buns with slaw and a local brand of bbq sauce.DSC_5435 (1600x1060)Good spot for a kitteh!  This is Bitsy in one of her favorite lounging spots atop the couch.20151208_154839 (1600x1060)We’ve been giving the bread machine some love here lately.  I have a big beef roast brining in the basement fridge, planing to make a corned beef.  I think it will be finished in the oven, instead of boiling like I’ve always done.  I wanted to try a rye bread machine recipe to see how it was going to go because, corned beef!  It’s the loaf on the left, the other is a plain white loaf.  The shine on to crust?  Duck fat!DSC_1529 (1600x1060)Here is a ham and swiss sammy on slices of that white bread.  I like my ham and cheese with slaw, and those pickled onions and peppers caught my eye.  It’s all good.katie_clipping[1] (1600x1060)Mrs J took Katie in to have her coat groomed.  Katie took it pretty well, she’s able to make the best of any situation she figures she can’t escape from.DSC_1505 (1600x1060)Moar sammich pr0n!  Cheeseburgers and fries with my homemade chipotle ketchup.  Younger Swiss melts better than the aged stuff – a feature, not a bug.DSC_1442 (1600x1060)Some more breakfast pr0n, waffles with bacon and eggs.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Breakfast Pizzas

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I wanted to tackle breakfast because with lots of people visiting over the holidays, it can be fun to do something special for breakfast. I had a breakfast pizza recipe tucked away for a while and I was on the hunt for the perfect crust. I finally stumbled upon some terrific flat bread, something I have been looking for since moving to Colorado. I was spoiled in Boston and LA, where every store had a locally made brand stocked. So with a nice flat bread I was ready to tackle tonight’s featured recipe.

But let’s begin with something sweet that was great fun to get the kids involved with, French Toast Rollups, recipe here.

I like this Sour Cream Pecan Coffee Cake because, well, pecans and streusel, but also because I can make it and leave it out for everyone to enjoy at their leisure with coffee.

I also have a Blueberry Coffee Cake, along with a full dinner menu and recipes here (because coffee cake, not just for breakfast).

Finally, for Blueberry Sour Cream Pancakes, click here.

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What’s on your plate for the weekend? If you’re cooking for Thanksgiving, what’s on your menu?

For tonight’s featured recipe, I snagged some of JeffreyW’s photos (top and middle of the post) to illustrate the many forms these pizzas can take. I made single pizzas, topped with an egg and lots of cheese. The ideas are endless. But below is a recipe for the basics.

Breakfast pizza

Breakfast Pizzas

Crust: flat bread, naan, pita bread or a pizza dough

Toppings: I used olive oil, breakfast sausage, mozzarella, spinach, garlic and an egg for each individual pizza.

To assemble: on a baking sheet arrange the crusts, brush lightly with oil, then spread roasted garlic, add crumbled (uncooked) breakfast sausage and shredded cheese, leaving a space in the center for the egg. I used the sausage and cheese to create a well for the egg.

At this point you have two choices, you can leave it on the baking sheet or move it to the oven rack. Because I was using flat bread and it was stable, I moved it to the oven rack and then added the egg into the well (I cracked the egg into a bowl and then transferred to the pizza, it seemed a smarter way to manage it all). You can also scramble the egg and pour slowly over the ingredients.

Bake at 450 degrees until the egg is cooked. I lost track of time and let the egg cook too long, I would have preferred a soft yolk. Remove, top with chopped spinach and serve immediately.

That’s it for this week. No recipe exchange next week because I’m assuming we will all be in a food coma. Have a great weekend and an excellent holiday. – TaMara

And for those who missed it, dinner menu this week is Spicy Potato Soup and Mocha Cake, menu, recipes and shopping list here. Great for a non-turkey meal to serve to company.

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Full Dinner Menu: Hearty Tomato Soup and a Couple of Awesome Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

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Awesome Photo by JeffreyW

This is one of my favorite menus, perfect for a chilly week.

For a different take on grilled cheese, JeffreyW makes Inside Out Grilled Cheese here.

This not your mom’s canned soup or grilled cheese.  These are tasty, hearty and easy to whip up.  And the flax cookies are addictive (I can say this because it’s a friend’s recipe).  On the board tonight:

  1. Hearty Tomato Soup
  2. Totally Awesome Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
  3. Flax Cookies

Hearty Tomato Soup

  • 28 oz canned tomatoes*
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 8 oz carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 3 green onions, including greens
  • 1 tsp basil
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat flour

2 quart saucepan

In a blender, mix tomatoes, garlic, carrots, celery & onions. Blend until liquid. In saucepan, combine tomato mixture with spices, heat over medium heat, stirring constantly. Let bubble (don’t let boil or use high heat, it will scorch) for 5 minutes. Add flour to cold milk, blend until smooth, add to soup. Let bubble again, reduce to low heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

* This is the time to use up any left over garden tomatoes, instead of canned. Blend until you have 4 cups of crushed tomatoes.

Totally Awesome Grilled Cheese

For each sandwich:

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread (or favorite firm bread)
  • Enough favorite cheese (Velveeta, cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack, etc.  to cover bread (about 3 slices)
  • Sliced Jalapeños (if you want some heat)
  • 1 large slice of tomato w/dash of salt
  • 1-2 tsp Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • Butter
  • Spray Oil

Spread salad dressing on both slices of bread and add ½ of the cheese to one slice of bread, place tomato & jalapenos on the cheese and top with remaining cheese and the other slice of bread, this keeps bread from getting soggy from the tomato. Lightly butter outside of both sides of the sandwich and grill in skillet sprayed with cooking spray or lightly oiled on medium heat until cheese is melted and bread is toasted. While it is grilling, press down hard with a spatula, “squishing” the sandwich. We don’t know why, but this makes them taste better.  :-)

Flax Cookies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup ground flax
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped almonds

Bowl & cookie sheet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream butter and sugar, add egg, vanilla and beat well. Combine dry ingredients together and then fold into egg mixture until well blended. Mix in almonds and drop by the spoonful onto the cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden, don’t let them brown.

Shopping List:

  • 28 oz canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes (4-6 large)
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 8 oz carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 3 green onions
  • 8 slices whole wheat bread (or favorite firm bread)
  • 8 – 10 oz favorite cheese (Velveeta, cheddar, Monterey Jack, etc)
  • 1- 2 Jalapenos or 2 oz pickled Jalapenos
  • 1 large tomato for slicing
  • Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • 2 sticks + butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup ground flax

Also: crushed garlic, basil, oregano, pepper, whole wheat flour, unbleached flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, oil spray

Originally posted October 2009

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Sammich Pr0n

DSC_0973 (1600x1060)This was so good yesterday that it seemed like a good idea to make another one for lunch today.DSC_0977 (1600x1060)We are taking full advantage of those great tomatoes from the farmer’s market!DSC_0981 (1600x1060)

Breakfast Pr0n – Biscuits and Gravy

DSC_0753 (1600x1060)With sausage and eggs and some of my five pepper jelly.  I haven’t made biscuits for a while, these are from a recipe we’ve featured before: JP’s Big Daddy Biscuits.DSC_0754 (1600x1060)Breakfast To Go:  A nice sausage egg biscuit with that same pepper jelly.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Revisiting Fun with Ricotta

Yummy Cannoli by JeffreyW

Yummy Cannoli by JeffreyW

Things are not slowing down here. I put a bid in on a cute little Victorian house, only to face 15 other bids this past week. I did not realize house hunting was going to turn into a full-time job that feels like an episode of the Bachelor, where I go home without the rose each week. Between that and raising a rambunctious 10-month old Great Dane, the weeks are slipping by. Speaking of the Beast, I had to clean out the freezer to make room for his frozen apples halves (apples were on sale, so I stocked up) and his giant beef bones (again, on sale, so I stocked up and boiled a good two week supply). Deep in the freezer, behind the pumpkin, cranberries and leftovers, was a pint of ricotta.

Decided I needed to use it up, so I dug into the archives looking for my vegetarian meatball recipe. That became tonight’s featured recipe, and I pulled up the previous recipe exchange where it was featured and said, “hey, that looks good.” In other words, tonight is a repeat. Next week, though, I’m planning on sharing some fun recipes I’ve been playing with this week.

To start tonight, how about homemade ricotta? JeffreyW has made it and if you click here and he’ll take you step by step through the process.

He then puts his homemade ricotta to good use with Stuffed Shells, as pretty to look at as they are delicious. (recipe and photos here)

I have a great alternative to regular gnocchi, a lighter, easier version using ricotta cheese and a fire roasted sauce to make a simple, quick Baked Gnocchi. (recipe here).

A quick Skillet Lasagna (recipe here) is great for weeknights and a breeze to make.

And a yummy dessert from JeffreyW, a beautiful Cannoli recipe, pictured above and found here.

Finally, for the pet lovers, a Bixby update from the pup himself. If you click here, be prepared, he’s a Beast, standing at his full height on his hind legs.

What’s on your menu for the weekend? Anyone else house hunting? Have you started your gardens in earnest yet?

Now on to the featured recipe. These are very simple to make and are delicious. It’s a great vegetarian alternative for your pasta dishes. They’re light and once you get the technique down, you can play with the flavors and customize them to your palate.

Veggie Meatballs

Most of the recipes I looked at used Italian Breadcrumbs. But I really feel these need fresh breadcrumbs, so I’ve included instructions for making your own. I didn’t season mine because I didn’t want them to overpower the delicate flavors of the cheeses. Fresh breadcrumbs absorb flavors and moisture more than packaged ones, so I thought it gave the whole meatball a better, lighter texture. I added a bit of  garlic powder (fresh garlic did not work with this, it was overpowering and a touch bitter), basil, oregano and fennel. The fennel really took it up a notch. My second round of these, I added a bit of red pepper flake.

Spinach and Ricotta Vegetarian Meatballs

  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (instructions below)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan, asiago, romano cheese mix
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 2 tsp fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried basil, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (not salt)
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 eggs, beaten

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  • 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, asiago, romano cheese
  • Olive oil

Breadcrumbs: this took a full 1-lb loaf of day-old Italian or French bread. I bought it from the day-old rack for cheap. I tore it into small pieces, spread out on a baking sheet and dried it in a 200 degree F oven for about 30 minutes. I didn’t want them toasted or seasoned because I thought it would overpower the delicate flavors of these meatballs. Once they were dried, I ran them through the blender. I reserved 1/4 cup for rolling the balls in before cooking.

Meatballs: Mix together ricotta, grated cheeses, spinach and spices. Add the eggs and mix well. Then add the breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup at a time. You want it to come together to form soft balls, but you don’t want it to be dry. Once you can form a soft ball with some structure, you don’t need to add more breadcrumbs.

Scoop up a heaping tablespoon (I used my cookie dough scoop) and roll the mixture into balls.

Mix together 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup grated cheeses in a bowl and roll each meatball in the mixture, coating on all sides.

You can bake or pan fry these. I chose to pan fry, it used a bit of oil, but it gave them a nice flavor. Baking them would be my option if I was doubling the recipe.

To fry: heat olive oil in a skillet on medium and add the meatballs, leaving enough space between them to easily turn them. They are soft, so it’s a delicate process. The good news is, if you really want them round (instead of kind of flattened) you can reshape them after they come out of the pan. Turn them until they are golden brown on all sides.

To bake: place them on a well oiled baking sheet or use parchment paper. Brush them with a bit of oil if desired. Leave space around each one so they brown evenly and bake at 375 degrees F for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. You can turn them halfway through if desired.

Serve them with your favorite pasta and sauce. If you need sauce ideas, click here for Garden Fresh Sauce and click here for Awesome Sauce.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend – TaMara

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Nutella Brownies

Nutella browniesSerendipity was afoot last week. I had read a recipe for Nutella flourless brownies and promptly went to the store to buy a jar and make them. Turns out, on that same day, the creator of Nutella died at 89.

The brownies are pretty good and one of those recipes that taste much better the next day. The process is very similar to my Chocolate Flourless Cake, recipe here.

I prefer the chocolate cake, but the Nutella brownies were a good second. If I make them again, I will add toasted hazelnut pieces (they should be chopped fine so they don’t all sink to the bottom of the batter).

Both recipes are super easy and a make for a very moist chocolate treat. And gluten-free as an added bonus.

Nutella Brownies

  • 4 large Eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups Nutella
  • Powdered Sugar for dusting

8×8 baking dish or springform pan, oiled and lined on the bottom with parchment cut to fit

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Beat eggs on high for 5 to 7 minutes until they have tripled in size. Beat in Nutella on low until fully incorporated*. Pour into the baking dish. Tap the dish on the counter firmly to remove any bubbles and then bake for 30-35 minutes, until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out with a just few crumbs, no batter. Mine actually took about 40 minutes, but I forgot to preheat.

Cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar, cutting and serving. I found it tasted best the next day. Also it freezes very well.

*some recipes call for you to microwave the nutella, but since the jar specifically says, DO NOT MICROWAVE, I just used a spatula to scoop out most of a 13 oz jar.

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Holiday Gift Ideas: Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’m busy baking for my annual gift boxes. These won’t be in them, because I”m working on two new cookie recipes I’ve never tried my hand at before. More on that later…

Chocolate Chocolate Cookie

These are pretty and very tasty.  They’re easy and just a touch above regular chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds or peanuts), chopped

mixing bowl and cookie sheet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream together butter and sugars.  Add eggs and vanilla, mixing well.  Sift together salt, soda, flour and cocoa, then add to butter mixture, blending well.  Add nuts and chocolate chips.  Spoon onto cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Cool on cooling rack.

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Originally posted Nov 2011

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