Monthly Archives: May 2012
Saturday morning breakfast has to be my favorite meal of the week. Usually it involves Eric and I cooking something together that’s too involved to make before he leaves for work. We usually rotate between chocolate chip scones, cream biscuits and sausage gravy and cheddar cheese biscuits because we usually have everything we need for those recipes. Sometimes, though, an involved breakfast isn’t possible even on the weekends. That’s when we turn to this recipe. Baked French toast is made the night before and is perfect for times when you don’t want to be standing over a skillet flipping French toast all morning. We usually make this at Christmas because it allows us to spend more time taking pictures and seeing family instead of being in the kitchen. We recently had visitors (friends one weekend and family the next), and we wanted to spend as much time with them as possible. So we prepped this the night before we needed it and popped it into the oven the next morning.
French toast can be just so-so when done wrong, but that’s not a problem with this version. Even though the bread sits overnight in the custard, it doesn’t get too soggy or eggy. The bread absorbs the custard but still gets toasted and lightly browned in the oven. The best part is that the pan is coated in a melted butter and brown sugar mixture that basically caramelizes in the oven. So when you flip your French toast out of the dish, it’s like it already has syrup on it. This is so decadent that it really doesn’t need anything else, but you could certainly drizzle it with maple syrup or dust it with confectioners’ sugar to take it over the top. Plus, since it’s so easy to make, you can enjoy it even on a weekday.
Just a few notes: We used a cinnamon swirl loaf from a local bakery one time we made this, and it was more amazing than I can say. However, the brioche we used the second time around was nearly as delicious. The recipe says that this should serve eight people, but that hasn’t been the case for us. I’d say it’s more a four to six person serving, at least with the way we eat breakfast around here. :)
Overnight French Toast Casserole
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 loaf (about 1 1/2 pounds) brioche or challah, sliced 1 1/2 inches thick
8 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk (at least 2%)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Maple syrup, confectioners’ sugar or fresh fruit for serving, optional
Combine the butter and brown sugar in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Arrange the bread slices in the dish. (It’s fine if they overlap.) In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and ginger. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread and allow it to soak in. Top with pecans and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 3 and up to 12 hours.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350º. Set the dish out for about 20 minutes while the oven is preheating. Bake until browned and set, about 35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.
Source: Bon Appetit, Y’allvia Ezra Pound Cake
It’s unofficially summer and, for some of you, the long weekend has already started. We’ve got big plans this weekend that include grilling grass-fed hamburgers from a local farm and celebrating our niece’s seventh birthday. If you’re still searching for recipe ideas for this weekend, here are some of my favorites. I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!
*This is a new blog feature I’m testing out, and I’d love to know what you think about it. :)
Thanks for the feedback, everyone! If you’re viewing this in a reader, head on over to the site to see how this looks (it’s much better, I promise).
This weekend is Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start of summer. That means grilling, outdoor parties and lots of frozen drinks. I’ve got plenty of drink recipes to share with you over the next couple of months, but I wanted to share this one today so that you can make it this weekend. Many of you likely have a four day weekend coming up, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than with piña coladas.
I know, I know – you can buy piña colada mix at any store. Making them fresh, though, yields a much tastier beverage and one that you can customize to your heart’s content. This recipe originally called for light or dark rum, but I substituted coconut rum. This is a tropical drink, after all! I think it would be fantastic with pineapple rum, too. Since I love coconut in all of its various forms, I topped my drink with a healthy dose of toasted coconut. If you don’t really like the texture of coconut, you could just use it to rim the glasses. This is just as easy to whip together as any frozen or bottled mix, and it tastes a hundred times better. This drink goes well with just about anything you can cook outside, so fire up the grill and enjoy a nice, frosty beverage while you’re cooking.
Makes 2 large or 4 small
2/3 cup rum of your choice
1/2 cup cream of coconut
1 cup pineapple juice
About 4 cups crushed ice
Toasted coconut and/or pineapple slices for garnish, optional
Chill 2 large or 4 small cocktail glasses. Combine rum, cream of coconut, pineapple juice and ice in a blender. Blend at high speed for about 30 seconds, until smooth. Pour into chilled glasses, garnish as desired and serve immediately.
Source: The Complete Book of Mixed Drinks
When we bought our house, Eric and I had no idea how much we would love our neighborhood. The first house we made an offer on was in this neighborhood, and it seemed fate brought us back here thirty-nine houses and five offers later. We bought the house for its proximity to Eric’s office and because it’s in an excellent school district, but our neighbors are what’s really made this house special. A couple weekends ago, we had a neighborhood block party. It was idyllic – a sunny day with a cool breeze, kids running around, dogs relaxing in the shade, music playing and loads of good food.
Eric and I decided to make potato salad, since it’s a staple for cookouts. I didn’t want traditional potato salad, though, because the thought of mayonnaise sitting in the heat for hours grosses me out. This recipe is perfect for outdoor entertaining because it’s made with an herby vinaigrette dressing. Unlike traditional potato salad, which can sometimes be bland and mushy, this potato salad is loaded with flavor and perfectly cooked fingerling potatoes. We used a colorful mix of potatoes, adding visual appeal to a one-toned dish. The dressing for this potato salad uses thyme, which just so happens to be my favorite herb, and has just enough zing from the vinegar and Dijon. With Memorial Day (the unofficial start of summer) coming up soon, this is a great recipe to have on hand for all the outdoor grilling that’s sure to be happening soon.
If traditional potato salad is more your style, then this Bacon Ranch Potato Salad is perfect for you.
Get the recipe »
Mother’s Day is pretty much synonymous with brunch, so it only seemed appropriate to share this recipe with you this week. Muffins are easy to make and go well with just about any type of breakfast/brunch foods. These muffins are slightly more involved than others, but the effort is well worth it. This is a standard muffin recipe enhanced by espresso and chocolate chips. Coffee and chocolate is one of my favorite flavor combinations (right up there with strawberry and chocolate), so this recipe was a must-make for me as soon as I found it.
The recipe is made like a recipe for cupcakes, which gives these muffins a step up from standard recipes. Butter and sugar are creamed, then the wet and dry ingredients are added in alternating batches. The result is a muffin with a slightly crisp exterior and a tender interior. These are incredibly rich and offer a punch of espresso flavor that’s balanced by a healthy dose of semisweet chocolate chips. Served with a cup of coffee and some fresh fruit, this is my ideal breakfast. You should note that these are meant to be bakery style muffins, which means they bake up quite large. They’ve got that big, round, crusty top that makes bakery muffins so fantastic. This is great if it’s the only thing you’re having for breakfast, but you may want to make them smaller if they’ll be part of a breakfast or brunch spread. If you do make them smaller, make sure to reduce the baking time slightly to account for that change.
If you want to try other variations, simply replace the espresso and chocolate chips. You could use lemon zest, jam, seasonal fruit, peanut butter chips or pretty much anything your heart desires. If you’re feeling especially decadent, I think these would be great cut in half with a slather of Nutella on each piece. Too bad I didn’t think of that before they were all gone!
Still searching for ideas for Mother’s Day brunch? Here are a few of my favorites:
Stuffed Nutella French Toast with Strawberries
Lemon Ricotta Muffins
Chocolate Chip Scones
Espresso Chip Bakery-Style Muffins
Makes 12 large muffins
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1 1/2 cups plain low-fat yogurt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 375º. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a small bowl, whisk together the espresso powder and yogurt. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the yogurt and flour mixture in batches, starting and ending with the yogurt (3 additions of yogurt, 2 of flour). Mix only until just incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate chips.
Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups, using a dough/ice cream scoop if possible. The cups will be very full. Bake until muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, 25-30 minutes, rotating halfway through baking. Invert onto a wire rack, stand upright and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve.
Source: The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook
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