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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 ┬áthe 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 ­čÖé

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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.

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.

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 ┬ásoup 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┬áDamnDelicious.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. ­čÖé

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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.

Lighter Sweet and Sour Chicken

I am obsessed with this Sweet and Sour Chicken dish from the mall food court of all things! Shanghai 360 is fairly new to Ottawa. I think the first one opened at Bayshore or the Rideau Centre this past year when both malls got major overhauls. The chain is also in other Ontario cities I believe. But their sweet and sour chicken is like none other. It’s more sweet than sour with a sticky, red sauce which has a hint of warm spice to it. I have no idea what’s in it and I don’t care. It’s one of the reasons I didn’t lose any weight this summer! Heehee! It got even worse through December when I found myself at the mall quite a lot for Christmas shopping, so it was my excuse to have this once or even twice a week. I’ve been trying to restrain myself as of late, but I had it again last week and it’s totally worth the calories. It’s my mission this winter to try to recreate the dish at home. In an attempt to eat a little healthier, I started with this one from the latest issue of Cooking Light. Not even close. It’s a good dish but not exactly gourmet – something to put together on a busy weeknight. I’ll keep trying so stay tuned.

SweetSour

Steve threw some steamed broccoli on top because he’s not a fan of pineapple.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Ingredients:

2 large egg whites
4 tsp of cornstarch, divided
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 Tbsp ketchup
1/4 cup water
3 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp lower-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp canola oil, divided
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple chunks
2 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
3 green onions cut into 1 inch pieces
3/8 tsp kosher salt

Preparation:

1. Combine eggs whites and 1 tablespoon cornstarch in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add chicken to the bowl; toss to coast.

2. Combine remaining 1 teaspoon cornstarch, ketchup, and the next 4 ingredients (through to soy sauce) in a bowl, stirring with a whisk.

3. Heat a large skillet non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add pineapple, ginger, and onions to pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer bell pepper to a plate.

4. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in pan. Add chicken mixture to pan, allowing any excess egg white mixture to drip back into bowl. Stir-fry 6 minutes or under chicken is browned and done.

5.  Add ketchup mixture and bell pepper mixture to the pan. Bring to a simmer; simmer one minute or until slightly thickened. Sprinkle with salt; serve immediately.

Serves 4. Calories: 324.

Fast Sugar Cookies

Fast Sugar Cookies

My little girl is now the perfect age to enjoy making cookies with me, especially if they are for Santa! She kept saying, “I really hope Santa loves our cookies!”. She was so excited and felt so proud that they turned out wonderfully. And the great thing about them is that they use the basic ingredients and only need a 10 minute chill in the fridge. And for the frosting, I didn’t have any meringue powder on hand so I used a recipe for Decorator’s Frosting from Betty Crocker. It doesn’t exactly taste great on it’s own. My daughter tried some and screwed her nose up at it! lol But when it’s on the cookie in small quantities you can’t notice it. The cookie recipe was actually for Valentine’s Day and are called “Sweetheart Sugar Cookies” so I’ll keep this one in my back pocket for February.

Because of the simple ingredients and the short chilling time, this cookie and icing combination is going in the All-star folder. 

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Sweetheart Sugar Cookies

Ingredients
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons meringue powder
Pink sanding sugar

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 350┬░. Beat butter, granulated sugar, and vanilla at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add egg, beating until blended.

2. Combine flour and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating just until blended.

3. Divide dough into 2 equal portions; flatten each portion into a disk. Cover and chill 10 minutes.

4. Place 1 dough disk on a heavily floured surface, and roll to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with a 3-inch heart-shaped cutter. Place 2 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheets. Repeat procedure with remaining dough disk.

5. Bake at 350┬░ for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Let cool on baking sheets 5 minutes; transfer to wire racks, and let cool completely (about 30 minutes).

6. Whisk together meringue powder and 2 Tbsp. water. Brush cookies with mixture, or dip cookies in mixture, and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

For jumbo cookies: Cut rolled-out dough with a 4 1/2-inch heart-shaped cutter. Bake at 350┬░ for 15 to 17 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Makes: about 1 dozen.

For bite-size cookies: Cut rolled-out dough with a 1-inch heart-shaped cutter. Bake at 350┬░ for 8 to 11 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Makes: about 20 dozen.

(I made various sizes and shapes and it was about 2 1/2 dozen and they took about 12 minutes to bake.)

Decorator’s Frosting

Ingredients:

2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk or half-and-half

Directions:

1 Stir together all ingredients until smooth and spreadable. Tint with food color if desired. This frosting is also perfect for gingerbread cookies.

Quick Chicken-Pepper Pasta

My friend Steve was over and was on candy duty for Halloween. To simplify my evening he also made me dinner! Looking through my cookbooks we decided to try something we knew would be quick, easy, and made with what we had on hand so we turned to this thriftstore find “Quick and Easy Family Favourites” from Gooseberry Patch. Honestly, I didn’t have the highest hopes, mainly because many of the recipes in the book rely on premade ingredients, but this one didn’t. Steve said historically, he didn’t have the best luck with cream sauces either so he was hesitant as well. But guess what…it was fabulous! We didn’t have red peppers so we used green, he forgot the garlic, and neither of us like tarragon very much, but other than than we stuck the recipe and I was so impressed. Cheesy, creamy, deliciousness! I guess there’s a reason why that company is so popular. ­čÖé

Pasta

Chicken Pepper Pasta

Ingredients

6 tablespoons butter or margarine (We used half of each)
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 orange pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 (7-oz.) pkg. vermicelli, cooked

Preparation

Melt butter in a skillet until sizzling; stir in onion, peppers and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat 2 to 3 minutes or until peppers are crisp-tender. Remove vegetables from skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add chicken, tarragon, salt and pepper to skillet. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, 7 to 9 minutes or until chicken is golden and tender.

Add vegetables, half-and-half and cheeses to chicken mixture. Reduce heat to medium; continue cooking 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Add vermicelli; toss gently to coat. Serve immediately.

Microwave Brownie!

I just realized that if you make with melted margarine instead of butter, you can make this recipe vegan. My sister bought me this mug two years ago and I finally got around to making the recipe. It’s quite good, but I needed an extra minute cooking time.

mugbrownie

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