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Baked French Toast with Cinnamon-Maple Applesauce

My friend Marcel got a promotion at work so I invited him over for brunch on the holiday Monday. He’s a little more health conscious then me, but still loves anything sweet and cinnamon-y. I searched through a ridiculous number of cool, books and decided about creating a hybrid recipe using  the ingredients from this Cooking Light recipe but baking the toast in the oven instead. Bad news – I forgot to spray the cookie sheet. Good news – it was still darn good! The real star was the apple sauce. Although it’s springtime, the apple and cinnamon combined with the real maple syrup screamed autumn. I am going to make this a go to recipe come September/October, but its great any time of the year.

To bake, preheat the oven to 350F degrees and bake for about 7-8 minutes until the egg mixture has set.

I forgot to take a pic of course, so please enjoy this photo from Cooking Light – probably my favourite cooking publication 🙂

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Maple French Toast

Ingredients

3/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
12 (1-ounce) slices day-old white bread (such as Pepperidge Farm sandwich bread)
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
Cinnamon-Maple Applesauce (recipe below)

Preparation

1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a shallow dish.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Working with 4 bread slices at a time, place bread slices into milk mixture, quickly turning to coat both sides. Remove bread slices from milk mixture. Add bread slices to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove toast from pan. Repeat procedure with cooking spray, remaining 8 bread slices, and remaining milk mixture. Sprinkle powdered sugar evenly over toast.

Cinnamon-Maple Applesauce

I used prepared applesauce instead of making it from apples, about 2 cups, and simmered for 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup water
8 cups chopped peeled apple (about 8 medium apples)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Preparation

1. Combine syrup and 1/2 cup water in a Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Add apple, cinnamon, and nutmeg; cover and cook over medium-low heat 25 minutes or until tender. Mash apples with a potato masher. Cook, uncovered, 20 minutes or until most of liquid evaporates. Serve warm or chilled.

One-Pan Chicken with Herbs + Garlic

Oh man, I have totally neglected this blog for the last couple of weeks! I’ve been so busy at work, and we haven’t been making a ton of new recipes. There are a couple that I haven’t posted yet including this one.

Here’s another recipe from the long weekend. Chicken thighs were on sale so I used a family pack of those instead of a whole chicken, used baby potatoes, and finally some dried herbs instead of fresh. OMG it was so good! The rendered chicken fat and the oil combined with the wine and broth to make a glorious sauce in the bottom of the pan, plus the chicken skin stayed super crispy and delicious! The potatoes soaked up all the flavors and were perfectly tender. This recipe is so simple that it’s perfect for any night of the week. This one is going into regular rotation once the weather cools down again. Very comforting.

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One-Pan Chicken in White Wine with Herbs and Garlic

Feeds 4 people

  • 1 large free-range chicken cut into 8 pieces
  • 700gm new potatoes, cleaned
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine or juice
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ cup finely chopped herbs (rosemary, parsley, thyme and sage)
  • 3T olive oil
  •  salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • sliced lemon (optional)

Preheat the oven to 200°C and place the chicken pieces and potatoes (and lemons if you are using) in a large deep sided roasting pan. Mix the wine or juice, stock, mustard, garlic and herbs and pour over the chicken. Drizzle over the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Roast uncovered for an hour, or until cooked through.

Source: www.drizzleanddip.com 

Strawberry Cheesecake Pie

(My goodness it’s taken me way too long to write this post.) Easter weekend was also Steve’s birthday and his favourite dessert is Strawberry cheesecake. But last year we ended up throwing the cake out because there was just too much and after a day or so the topping got yucky. So my mission was to find something more manageable. I was inspired by Junior’s restaurant recipe from “Junior’s Desserts” cookbook but I used a graham crust instead of the vanilla wafer crust, ditched the macaroon crumbs, and I made the topping separately so that I could easily refrigerate the cake without the topping going soft. I cut them into individual portions and popped them in the freezer for whenever I have a craving for cheesecake. Taste wise, I did  like it a lot but I think it was a touch too sweet. Next time I will leave out about 1/4 of a cup and see what happens. And as it states in the recipe, it really does puff up quite a bit but settles down fine. Mine had cracks but I have  feeling I left it in a little too long. It was still nice and creamy though. I don’t know if I will bother making cheesecake in a spring form again!

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Cheesecake pie at top left, veg, and then C.I. Scalloped Potatoes

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The filling cracked quite a bit but it doesn’t really matter as you’re going to top it anyway.

Junior’s fresh strawberry cream cheese pie

1 recipe vanilla wafer crumb crust (I used graham crust)

For the Cream Cheese Filling:
4 8-ounce pkgs cream cheese at room temperature
1 2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 extra large eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream (35% m.f.)

For the Topping:
1 recipe Macaroon crunch (I didn’t bother making this)
1 1/2 – 2 quarts ripe strawberries, hulled
1/2 cup strawberry jam, melted and kept warm

Makes one 9-inch deep-dish pie

Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. butter a 9 inch pie plate. Make the crust, adding 1 tsp baking powder in step 1. Press the mixture over the bottom and all the way up the side of the pie plate. Freeze for 15 minutes. Bake just until set, about 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

Make the cream cheese filling. In a large bowl with an electric mix (using paddle attachment if you have it) on low, beat one package of the cream cheese, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and the cornstarch together for about 3 minutes. Blend in the remaining cream cheese, one package at a time, scraping down the bowl after each one. This will take about another 3 minutes.

Increase the mixer speed to medium (no faster!) and beat in the remaining 1/1/3 cups of sugar, then the vanilla. Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Beat in the cream just until completely blended. The batter will look light, creamy, and airy. Be careful not to overmix! Spoon the filling into the cooled crust. Bake the pie until puffed, 30-35 minutes. The filling will rise in the oven, then settle as it cools. Let the pie cool on a wire rack for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the macaroon crunch and cool. [Bake 2/3 cup of chopped mixed nuts and 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut for 10-15 minutes at 350F until golden.]

5. Arrange the whole berries, on their sides with the pointed ends out, in concentric circles on top of the pie, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edge. Spoon the melted jelly over the berries, covering the top of the pie. Place the macaroon crunch around the edge of the pie, forming a 1-1 1/2 inch border. Immediately refrigerate for at least 2 hours (3 is better). The pie is best served the same day. [I sliced the strawberries and combined with the jelly to spoon over individual pieces instead so that the filling would stay good for longer.]

Basic Graham Cracker Crust

1 ½ cups finely crushed regular or cinnamon graham crackers (24 squares)
1/3 cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar

Heat oven to 350°F. In medium bowl, stir all ingredients until well mixed. Reserve 3 tablespoons crumb mixture for garnishing top of pie before serving, if desired. Press remaining mixture firmly and evenly against bottom and side of pie plate. Bake about 10 minutes or until light brown; cool on cooling rack. Fill as directed in pie recipe.

Trisha Yearwood’s Speedy Baked Beans

I’ve been meaning to make baked beans for months now and have dried beans hiding out in my pantry, but I’m intimidated by the whole soaking thing. Last week I bit the bullet and decided to do a trial run of sorts using canned beans. A quick google search resulted in this little gem from Trisha Yearwood. I’ve only ever eaten the bottled version of baked beans so I have nothing to compare it to, but I must say I really like these. The sauce is like candy and bacon mixed together so how can you go wrong? And the best part – it was ready in about an hour.

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Trisha Yearwood’s Baked Beans

1 lbs bacon
1 large vidalia onion; chopped
4 cans (15 oz) pork and beans
1/2 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup light brown sugar; (packed)
2 TBL prepared yellow mustard

Preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Fry the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp.

3. Remove the bacon from the pan, leaving the drippings, and drain it on paper towels.

4. Crumble and set aside, if you didn’t already chop it.

5. Pour out and discard all but 4 tbsp. of the bacon dripping.

6. Add the onion to the pan and saute until softened, about 7 minutes.

7. Stir in the beans, molasses, sugar, mustard and bacon. Mix well.

8. Pour the beans into a 3-quart casserole dish and bake, uncovered for 45 minutes.

Easy Baguettes

Easy Baguettes

My daughter’s school is teaching the kids how to make bread this week and Miss M. came home yesterday proclaiming that she likes French bread! Anytime that she tries something new and likes it is a victory for me. The weather was miserable today so we stayed home and I got her to help me make this version of french bread / baguette. Authentic baguettes are more involved than this so I wasn’t expecting it would turn out to Parisian standards, but I think this bread is pretty decent. The only thing I would do next time is add another 1/4-1/2 tsp of salt and maybe let it rise a little longer at the end. My oven runs a little hot so I probably should have taken it out 3 minutes sooner because it got a little too brown on the bottom but it didn’t impact the overall flavour. I would definitely make this again on a future snow day.

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Baguette

Ingredients

1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 1/4 cups warm water (100° to 110°)
3 cups bread flour, divided (about 14 1/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon cornmeal

Preparation

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 3/4 cups flour to yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Cover and let stand 15 minutes. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; sprinkle evenly with salt. Knead until the salt is incorporated and the dough is smooth and elastic (about 6 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel slightly sticky).

Place dough in large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in warm place (85°), 40 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If an indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Divide in half. Working with 1 portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), roll each portion on a floured surface into 12-inch rope, slightly tapered at ends. Place ropes on large baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Lightly coat dough with cooking spray, and cover; let rise 20 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 450°. Uncover the dough. Cut 3 (1/4-inch-deep) diagonal slits across top of each loaf. Bake at 450° for 20 minutes or until browned on bottom and sounds hollow when tapped.

Source: Cooking Light, Oct. 2005

 

Chocolate Banana Muffins w/ Choc. Peanut Butter Icing

My 4 year old has decided that she no longer likes bananas so I had a couple lying around that didn’t get eaten. I poked around in Pinterest and found this recipe that I thought would be a nice change from plain banana bread. I was about 3 spoonfuls shy of 1.5 cups of mashed banana so I topped it up with apple sauce and it worked really well. The muffins are very soft and moist with a hint of banana and lots of chocolate flavour, especially with the icing. To make them a little more decadent I added Chocolate Peanut Butter Icing from Chocolate Covered Katie. So freakin’ good! And a bonus – my daughter likes them! I highly recommend these.

Tip: a whisk makes for quick banana mashing.

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Chocolate Banana Muffins

INGREDIENTS
1½ cups mashed bananas (about 2 1/2 large)
â…“ cup oil
1 egg
1 cup sugar
1½ cups flour
ÂĽ cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
ÂĽ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Sugar for sprinkling on tops

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine bananas, oil, egg large mixing bowl.
In a separate large bowl, sift together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder. Add to banana mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.
Spoon batter into greased or lined muffin tins. Sprinkle the tops of each muffin with 1 teaspoon of sugar.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. (Mine took 21 minutes)

Makes about 16-17 muffins if measuring with an ice cream scoop.

Source: http://www.chef-in-training.com

Quick Chicken and Mushroom Chowder

I’ve been busy with my job hunting and preparing for Valentine’s Day so I haven’t posted much as of late. I did a couple of cute desserts that I’ll post later, but in the meantime here’s a lovely  soup to warm your soul this winter. We definitely need it here in Ottawa after the record breaking snowfall we received yesterday. 47 centimetres! (18 1/2 inches) The soup was inspired by DamnDelicious.com. Their site was down so I used just the ingredients as listed on Pinterest, with some tweaks to suit my tastes. I fried up 4 slices of bacon to render the grease and use the meat as a garnish. I also added a couple of potatoes. It turned out wonderfully! My guy Steve is a mushroom fanatic and his favourite soups are chowders so he wolfed this down. It’s also super simple and quick to make, especially if you have leftovers from a Sunday roast chicken. You could also use leftover turkey from a holiday celebration, or use precooked like I did. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. 🙂

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Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Soup

Ingredients

4 slices of bacon
1 large package of precooked chicken breast or approx 2 cups of chopped rotisserie chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced (I used a can of mushrooms)
1 onion, diced
2 handfuls of thinly sliced carrots (like the packaged kind for coleslaw)
2 stalks celery, diced

2 potatoes, diced
2-3 pinches or so of dried thyme
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken stock (1 litre low sodium prepackaged chicken stock)
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup half and half, or more, as needed*
1 tsp dried parsley leaves
2 or 3 pinches of dried rosemary

Instructions

Cook the bacon to your liking in a large pot or dutch oven or medium heat. Remove from pot and crumble. Pour off all but one tablespoon of the bacon fat. Add butter, garlic, mushrooms, onion, carrots and celery to the fat in the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in thyme until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Whisk in chicken stock, bay leaf and chicken thighs, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes.Whisk together 2 Tbsp flour and 2 Tbsp of the half and half to make a slurry. Stir in remaining half and half into soup until heated through, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil and add the slurry to thicken the soup. If the soup is too thick, add more half and half as needed until desired consistency is reached. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and rosemary, if desired.

Notes: *Half and half is equal parts of whole milk and cream. For 1 cup half and half, you can substitute 3/4 cup whole milk + 1/4 cup heavy cream or 2/3 cup skim or low-fat milk + 1/3 cup heavy cream.

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