Monday, April 28, 2014

French Toast with Strawberry Syrup

I don't think I've made French Toast in at least 20 or maybe even 30 years. My friend Lynn was talking about it on facebook today and I jumped on that bandwagon and pleased myself like you wouldn't believe. If you ever have a night where you can't decide what to cook, this is a direction you should explore. So easy and quick. Oh, and inexpensive. Get ready, you'll be eating in 20 minutes.

Strawberry Syrup/Sauce
Enough for 4 slices of French toast

8-10 oz fresh strawberries sliced
1/4 cup water
1 T Splenda or sugar
1/2 lemon squeezed

French Toast
4 slices

3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 tsp half and half
4 slices sturdy white bread
2 T butter
1-2 T canola oil

Powdered sugar for garnish

Slice your strawberries. Put them in a saucepan with water and Splenda (or sugar). Bring to a low boil and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice right before you remove it from the stovetop.

While strawberry syrup is cooking, prepare the batter for your toast. Combine eggs, salt, vanilla and half and half.  Soak bread for a few minutes until it becomes a bit egg-laden and heavy.

The bread I used tonight was Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Hearty White. It's sturdy enough to hold up to the egg soaking procedure. Heat a large skillet and add butter and canola. On medium to low heat add your bread and cook about 3 minutes on each side until toasy and brown.

Plate and serve with a dusting of powdered sugar and your quick homemade strawberry syrup. Yummy, economical and oh so comforting.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Parmesan Coated Croutons...Quick on the Stovetop

I hate to throw away food, and this week my loaf of Italian bread was not being eaten for some reason. It was getting kind of stale, so instead of tossing it in the freezer for a later date, it went into a semi hot pan with garlic infused butter and olive oil and got a shake up in a brown paper bag with grated parmesan cheese. Voila! Croutons for tomorrow's salad. A simple technique and a great snack even if you're not a salad fan.

Parmesan Coated Croutons

3 or 4 slices of semi stale Italian bread cut into 1 inch cubes
1-1/2 T unsalted butter
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4-6 cloves of garlic smashed
Kosher salt
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet heat butter and oil and add smashed garlic.

Cook until garlic becomes aromatic and slightly brown. Remove garlic from skillet with slotted spoon. This is about the color you're looking for because if you let it go any further it could easily burn and you'll have to start over. That's not something you want to do.

To garlic infused oil/butter mixture add your bread cubes and a tsp (or a little more) of kosher salt. Toss cubes in pan and cook for 5 or so minutes on all sides until mostly brown.

Now the fun begins. Remove croutons from pan and toss into a small brown paper bag with the cheese. Shake, shake, shake until your toasty bread cubes are covered with cheese. Immediate happy snacking and a fabulous salad garnish for another day. Wasn't that quick?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Crash Hot Potatoes Slightly Re-Mixed

I've been changing up The Pioneer Woman's Crash Hot Potato recipe and decided it needed some bacon. Here's my version of her side dish (I made it for two) that would be great with a steak and a welcome change from your standard baked potato. It's so simple and has wonderful textural things going on- like soft and creamy, and lots of crunchy. And the flavor is buttery and rich. Make either version of these Crash Potatoes, you won't be disappointed.

Crash Hot Potatoes Slightly Re-Mixed
serves 2

2 medium size Yukon Gold potatoes
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
2-3 T canola oil
kosher salt
black pepper
sour cream
2-3 strips of cooked bacon crumbled

In medium size pot add your potatoes and cover with water. Cook about 30 minutes until they are fork tender.

Drain in colander and to warm pot that you cooked the potatoes in, add 1T of butter and 1T olive oil. Put pot back on stovetop and heat about 1 minute or less until butter is melted.

When potatoes are cool enough to handle, place them on a well oiled baking pan. I used a few tablespoons of canola oil. With a potato masher, smash these taters. I gave each a good smash, then rotated them 90 degrees. This gives them the ability to get crunchy in the oven. Which reminds me, pre heat your oven to 450 degrees sometime before the simmering potatoes are done on the stovetop. Once smashed, drizzle or brush with the melted butter/olive oil mixture (I use my barbecue brush) . Now sprinkle liberally with kosher salt and black pepper.

Bake for 25 minutes. Or until you just can't wait anymore. But I do recommend that you give them time to become crusty and crisp in places.

I am a loaded potato lover, so I garnished with crumbled bacon and sour cream. Well how could I not add sour cream? And if I had some chives, they would have gone on too.

I'm thinking these taters would be great with some salsa, black beans and jalapeno peppers for a Tex-Mex twist. Or a topping of chili if you really want to take it to the Tex-Mex max. I'm also thinking about a nice melty cheese sauce. The possibilities are endless.