Thursday, May 23, 2013

Angel Food French Toast

This was delicious and very pretty.  Next time, I plan to make a strawberry syrup to accompany it.  Yum! 

Yield:  Serves 4-6

1 angel food cake, sliced into 12 pieces
3 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons melted butter

Optional Garnishes: Strawberries, syrup, and/or whipped cream
Whisk eggs, milk, and vanilla extract until foamy and well combined.  Heat a griddle or skillet to medium heat.  Dip each piece of angel food cake into the egg mixture, coating each side.  Let some of the mixture drip off.  Add some melted butter to the pan, then add the french toast slices (you'll need to cook in batches).

Cook until golden, about 2-3 minutes per side.  Be sure to also cook the ends of the cake.
Repeat with remaining slices, then serve while warm with fresh berries, syrup and/or whipped cream.  So easy!  Enjoy!

Pink Lemonade Margaritas

Hello, summer.  It's been a while!

1 (12 ounce) can of frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed
3 cans of cold water

1 750 ml bottle of tequila
1 cup of Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
White sugar, for rimming glasses
1 lemon, cut into slices


Pour the thawed lemonade concentrate into a pitcher, and fill the can with cold water.  Pour into the pitcher; repeat twice more.   Fill the can with tequila and pour that into the pitcher, then repeat. Add about a cup of Grand Marnier.  Taste for strength and add more liquor if desired.

Stir well and add lemon slices to the pitcher. Taste and add sugar if you would like it a little sweeter.

Chill in the fridge for an hour before serving. Serve over ice in sugar-rimmed glasses. If you can find superfine sugar, that will coat easier. As for tequila, personally I prefer gold, as it's a bit sweeter and richer, but any tequila will work. My favorite brand, Casa Noble, is a bit pricey ; )


Blue Cheese and Bacon Wedge Salad

I love a wedge salad.  It's so simple but so fresh and delicious!  This is great as lunch, a side dish or an appetizer.

2 heads iceberg lettuce
3/4 cup fried crumbled bacon
4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 1/2 cups blue cheese dressing 

Blue Cheese Dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tbsp buttermilk
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

Salt and black pepper, to taste
Begin by making the dressing. Whisk together the mayonnaise and sour cream. Add the buttermilk and garlic powder and whisk until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir, then fold in the blue cheese. This can be made a day or two in advance and refrigerated for up to a week.

For the salad, remove any wilted leaves from outside of the lettuce heads. Hit the bottom of each lettuce head on a flat surface to loosen the inner core, then pull it out.  Slice into approximately 2 inch thick wedges.

Spoon dressing over the wedges and top with chopped tomatoes, bacon and blue cheese, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tips:  Don't forget to season your salad!  One of the major mistakes that home cooks make is omitting the seasoning in salads and vegetables.  Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper do wonders for the taste of a salad.

This is also good if you add diced avocado or crumbled egg.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bacon Bourbon Caramel Popcorn

I don't really eat snacks.  I love food, real food like meat, fresh vegetables, potatoes... the experience of sitting down for a full meal.  But I'm not really into chips, or processed junk food like cookies, crackers, etc.

Having said that, I ate two bowls of this popcorn in one sitting.  Two!  If you're wondering if I felt sick afterward, the answer is yes.  But it was worth it.

Since I only post recipes to this blog that are successful, I feel like I am always saying "this was delicious" or "you have to try this", but.... this was really, really, really awesomely delicious!

Yield:  2 large bowls of popcorn

9 strips of crisp bacon

2 1/2 cups popcorn kernels
1 cup butter
2 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup bourbon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Vegetable oil
Coarse sea salt (for garnishing)

Fry bacon, drain and reserve.

Add several tablespoons of oil to a large pot over medium heat.  Add a few kernels to the pot to test the heat; once they begin to pop, add 3/4 cup of popcorn to the pan.  This process will continue for three batches.  Cover the pot and monitor it closely, shaking every once in a while so the popcorn doesn’t burn.

Once the popping slows, remove the pan from the heat and transfer the popcorn to a bowl. Repeat with the rest of the popcorn.  Once all of the popcorn has been cooked, spread it out in an even layer on 2-3 baking sheets.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees, then crumble cooked bacon over the popcorn.

Next, bring butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup to a boil in an oversized pot, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat and simmer for about five minutes, then remove from heat.  Stir in the bourbon, vanilla, salt and baking soda and mix.  Once you add the baking soda, the mixture will foam up, so be sure you have enough room at the top of the pot or it may overflow.

Pour caramel mixture over bacon and popcorn mixture and mix to coat evenly.  Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and bake for about 60-80 mins, until golden brown, stirring the mixture every 15 minutes or so. 

Remove the popcorn from the oven and let cool for about an hour before breaking it up.    The popcorn will still be somewhat soft when it comes out of the oven, but will harden as it cools. Taste and add additional salt if necessary.  Then try not to eat it all in one sitting!  Enjoy!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Summery Shrimp Salad

This can be served as a salad or a sandwich.  I made this for a catering event and served it in halved pitas, and then served the leftovers the following day as a salad.  It was yummy either way!

Yield: 6-10 servings as a salad, or 4 full pita sandwiches

3 green onions, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, diced
3/4 cup baby carrots, sliced into rounds
1 cucumber, seeded and thinly sliced

2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 1/2 pounds small or medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp paprika

1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp white sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice 
1 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
Salt and pepper, to taste

If making sandwiches, you'll need pita bread (4 whole or 8 halved)

Chop vegetables and set aside.  Toss shrimp with olive oil, paprika, and salt and pepper.  Spread on a baking sheet.  Broil until the shrimp are opaque, about 4 minutes.  Drain and cool.

Mix vegetables, shrimp and spices in a large bowl.  Add sour cream, sugar and lemon juice.  Season to taste.

If serving in pita bread, wait until just before eating to stuff the bread so it doesn't get soggy.

This needs a lot of seasoning so be sure to salt liberally and taste to make sure it isn't bland.  I used baby carrots and sliced them into rounds, which I thought looked cute, but you could also use shredded or matchstick carrots.  Perfect for summer!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Salted Caramel Mini Banana Breads

I decided to make this into individual cakes, so I used some pans I have that make mini fillable cakes.

Yield1 medium loaf or 8 mini cakes

4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt

Caramel sauce
Coarse sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix butter into mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.  Add the brown sugar, egg, and vanilla.  Sprinkle baking soda, spices, and salt over the mixture, then mix in the flour.

Pour the batter into buttered pan(s).  For the small cakes, I baked this for about 20 minutes, but for a larger portion it would take about an hour - I recommend checking it with a knife inserted in the center after about 20 minutes.

Once the cakes are set, remove from oven.  Drizzle or fill with caramel sauce and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.  Serve while warm.

This was even more delicious the next day, when the caramel and salt had soaked into the cake.  Enjoy!

Tips:  If you don't have a pan like this, you could use a cookie cutter to cut a small hole in the center of the cake to fill.  Or use a fork to make pinholes in the top of the cake and then pour the caramel sauce over it.  Or just pour the caramel sauce right on top!  Whatever works!


Grilled Chicken Cheesesteaks

This is a relatively healthy and easy weeknight meal! 

Yield: Serves 4

1 pound chicken breast
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 mixed bell peppers, seeded, thinly sliced
1 large red onion, thinly sliced

8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
8 ounces sliced provolone cheese
4 sandwich rolls

2 garlic cloves, sliced


Bring chicken to room temperature and lightly season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with vegetable oil.  Preheat a grill pan to medium high.  Grill chicken for about 8 minutes per side, or until fully cooked, flipping once.  Remove and set aside to cool.

Add vegetables to grill pan.  Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with oil.  While vegetables are grilling, slice chicken breast and place in a bowl large enough to fit both the veggies and the chicken.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and preheat oven to broil.  Sprinkle sandwich rolls with salt and pepper and set on baking sheet.  Rub insides and outsides of rolls with the sliced garlic cloves.  You can add the garlic cloves to the vegetables that are cooking, or discard, if you're not a garlic lover!

Once the vegetables are soft, remove and toss with the chicken.  Add additional seasoning to taste, if necessary.  Cover the sandwich rolls with the chicken and vegetables and layer with the provolone slices.  Place the baking sheet in the oven and broil until the cheese is melted and bubbling, or for about 1 minute.  Serve while warm and melty.  Yum!