Sunday, February 28, 2016

Pecan Orange French Toast





Whenever we go up to Cambria, for a quick vacation we make a point to stop along the way and have breakfast at a favorite restaurant.  

It's a tradition we do each and every trip up north.  The breakfasts and nice and hearty, filled with biscuits and gravy, an omelette, or something decadent like french toast.  



The last time we went I indulged and got an order of french toast, fruit, and bacon. Yum!  It was wonderful and the whole time I was eating it I couldn't quite make out the ingredient that made this french toast just a little more special.  One the way home it hit me!  The flavor of citrus, specifically oranges lingered in the dish.  



I still remember this dish and today I decided to re-create this for our breakfast.  I added the addition of chopped pecan which I think lent a wonderful crunch to the dish.  Oh my! Thick bread slices with a touch of grated orange peel and crunchy pecans make this French toast something special!

I hope you enjoy this for breakfast or brunch soon.




Pecan Orange French Toast 

Serves 6  

4 eggs
2/ 3 cup orange juice 
1/ 3 cup 2% milk 
1/ 4 cup sugar 
1 tablespoon grated orange peel 
1/ 2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1/ 4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
6 slices french bread 
3 tablespoons of butter
3/ 4 cup chopped pecans 
Maple syrup 

In a a 9x13 dish whisk together the eggs through the nutmeg (the first seven ingredients). Place bread slices in the mixture and press into the mixture.  Turn the bread over so both sides soak up the mixture.  

Meanwhile heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat.  Add 2 Tablespoons of butter to the hot pan. Allow to melt and swirl around the pan to cover all the surface area.  Add 3 or 4 slices of the egg soaked bread to the pan.  Cook on the first side 2-3 minutes until golden brown.  Flip bread over and cook for another 3 minutes.  Remove to a plate or platter and sprinkle with chopped pecans.  Serve with maple syrup if desired.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Ground Beef Stroganoff


Thank heavens for Pinterest!

The other day I had thawed a pound of ground sirloin with the intention of making a wonderful spaghetti sauce.  Then I found out that MGG had eaten spaghetti for lunch that day, so here I was with a pound of ground sirloin and no inspiration at all.  My plans were thwarted...and at this point I wanted to make something different than the usual burger, burrito, or taco.

Off to Pinterest I went in search for recipes using ground beef and came across a pin called, One Pot Ground Beef Stroganoff from the blog, Taste and Tell.  This looked to be interesting enough to try.  I mean I love Beef Stroganoff that includes steak, but I've never tried it with ground beef. Would it be beefy enough?  


The other plus about this recipe is that it is all made in one pot.  Gotta love that, as clean up is a breeze.  Since this was a first for us I decided to make the recipe but cut it in half for the two of us and save some of the ground sirloin for tostadas another day.  Still, cutting it in half it made plenty of left overs for MGG to take to work the next day.


This was a quick, tasty, and comforting meal.  A perfect weeknight meal.  One that MGG really loved.  Another dinner saved by the fabulous pins on Pinterest!

Enjoy!


Ground Beef Stroganoff

Slightly adapted from:  Taste and Tell

serves 4


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper
1/4 cup diced onion
1 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb ground sirloin
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
2 cups low sodium beef broth
4 oz farfalle pasta
1/4 cup sour cream
fresh parsley, for serving

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a pot or large skillet. Add the mushrooms and cook until they are tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then remove from the pot into a bowl and set aside.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoons of oil in the same pot. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook until translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add the ground beef and continue to cook, breaking up the beef with a spoon as it cooks, until it is browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30-60 seconds. Sprinkle the paprika over the top and stir to combine.

Pour in the beef broth and the pasta. Bring to a light boil then cover the pot. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the pasta is al dente, 17-20 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the mushrooms and sour cream.

Serve topped with fresh parsley.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Wonderful Technique: Baked Bacon


Have you tried making your bacon in an oven yet?

So many people have picked up on this technique as it is the perfect way to make bacon for a crowd. Plus who wants to stand over a hot stove trying to dodge splattering bacon grease?  Not I.  Not anymore!

Crispy, smoky bacon it one of life's guilty pleasures.  I love it, MGG loves it...and I'm sure you do to. What ever you call this method, roasted bacon, oven bacon, baked bacon, or oven roasted bacon, this is a hassle free and hands free to cook that wonderful breakfast item.  


I was a skeptic at first but then I tried it.  It's wonderful for big batches, plus there's no flipping!  You could possibly cook 1 pound of bacon at a time using a large pan. Or just use two pans.  How great is that?  You can just lay the bacon on a baking sheet but for crispy bacon I suggest that you place a cooling rack on the sheet to elevate the bacon and this will create the crisp bacon we love.

Simple, easy, crispy, smokey bacon!

Enjoy!





Baked Bacon

serves 2

Ingredients:
6 slices of applewood smoked bacon (or your favorite)


Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Lay the bacon on a rack placed on a sheet pan.  Baked for 15 to 20 minutes until the bacon is crispy. Drain on paper towels and serve.




Sunday, February 21, 2016

Leftover Redo: Chicken Sloppy Joes


How do you feel about leftovers?  

Some people love them and some people don't care much about them.  I'm kind of in the 2nd category.  There are only some dishes that I like in their "original form" as leftovers, such as spaghetti or pasta dishes, Chinese food, and pizza, oh...and fried chicken.  The rest seem to lose some of their original texture to me. 

Such as a great chicken picatta.  You won't catch me eating it the next day (nope!) because the chicken always seems to get tougher the next day after being cold.  I don't know, maybe it's me...but that's my quirks on leftovers.  The good thing is that MGG will eat anything, leftover or not! Ha!


There are some items that are excellent for leftovers as "single ingredients", such as rice, beans, roasted vegetables, seasoned and cooked ground beef, chicken, or turkey.  And yes, chicken that has been roasted or poached and then shredded or cubed for different uses.   So while I won't eat a chicken pounded and cooked with a pan sauce in it's original form twice I will eat roasted or poached chicken and turn it into a completely different dish! (Weird huh?)


I love, love, love shredded chicken.  Did you know they sell just shredded chicken in the stores now?  Love that in a pinch, but I usually cook extra chicken just for leftovers, or what I consider "different meals" during the week.


Using my leftover shredded chicken today I made some wonderful sandwiches for our lunch. Using pantry items and wanting something comforting and hot I turned this shredded leftover chicken into the best Chicken Sloppy Joes.  Oh man! These were so good.  Of course sloppy joes are usually made with ground beef...but they are just awesome with any type of meat!  See for yourself!  Don't you want to just dig right in?



Saucy, spicy, and simply delicious!


These are simple to put together with pantry items.  I used my Old School Sloppy Joes sauce recipe and substituted the beef for my leftover chicken.  (Winner!) As long as your have fresh buns or sandwich rolls you are set.  You can even use a rotisserie chicken to make these on the fly if you don't have leftovers.  These are definitely something the kids and the whole family will love.

Enjoy!




Chicken Sloppy Joes

serves 4

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 1/2 cups cooked shredded chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 - 1 can (13-15 ounces) tomato sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 hamburger buns or soft kaiser rolls, split (toasted optional)

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until soft about 5 to 7 minutes. Add chicken to skillet and heat through about 3-4 minutes.  Add garlic and stir 30 seconds.  Add salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Stir 3/4 can of tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce into beef mixture in skillet. Taste for flavoring. Add more tomato sauce or Worcestershire sauce to adjust flavor to your liking. Simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, 3-4 minutes.

Spoon onto toasted buns, and serve.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Weeknight wonder: Caribbean Pork Stir Fry


A couple of weeks ago we had 3 days of rain straight.  Boy did we ever need it!

I don't think I heard one person complain about the rain because of the dire need of water to ease the drought. Rain is a precious thing in Southern California.  All hail to the rain!

But with rain comes cold weather, dark evenings, and the need for comforting food. All on a weeknight.



My version of a Caribbean Pork Stir Fry will satisfy your comfort food craving along with being a quick weeknight dinner that you can make in 30 minutes or less. Guaranteed!

I had a few pork chops on hand so was ready to go when our hunger started to hit. It was raining outside and we were ready to eat and watch a movie.

This dish takes the flavors of the Caribbean, specifically Jamaica, and throws them together in a stir fry.  You get spicy jerk flavored pork along with the depth of bell peppers and onions, and throw in some plum sauce for a little sweetness.  That hot and sweet thing is totally going on here and tastes amazing! 



Lots of compliments were flying, which is always nice to hear. Now you don't need rain or snow to crave comfort food.  This is good anytime!  Make it tonight and see them rave about your cooking.  
Enjoy!




Caribbean Pork Stir Fry
serves 4

3 Tablespoons canola oil, divided
4 1" thick boneless pork loin chops
2 tsp Jamaican Jerk seasoning
1/2 onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced thin  
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and sliced thin  
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced thin 
1/4 peanuts 
1/2 cup plum sauce
hot cooked rice

Remove all fat from the pork chops and slice into long thin strips.  

Heat 2 Tablespoons of canola oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat.  Add chicken and make sure they are in a single layer.  Sprinkle with jerk seasoning.  Stir meat, cooking until done about 5 minutes.  Remove to a plate.

Add the additional 1 Tablespoon of oil to the skillet and add the sliced onions and bell peppers.  Stir and allow to cook about 5 minutes until vegetables are slightly tender.  Add peanuts and stir to roast, about 1 minute.  Return the pork and any accumulated juices to the skillet.  Add the plum sauce and stir to coat all the ingredients.

Serve over hot rice.  Enjoy!




Monday, February 8, 2016

Valentine's Day Citrus Shortbread Bites


Valentine's Day...the day of love!

Memories of being a kid and writing out those little Valentine's cards to pass out to everyone at school, run through my head.  Do you remember those?  I wonder if they still sell those cards...

I also love the little candy hearts with the remembrance sayings on them like "Hug Me"  "Be Mine" and "Love".  We would always get a little box of those and love looking at the sayings.  I've also used those recently to sprinkle on our dining table for a cute tablescape for Valentine's dinner.


I think that the colors of valentines are what really attract me. The reds, pinks, and whites for balloons, heart candies...and I can honestly say that a lot of my valentine's dresses over the years have been one or a combination of these colors.

These colors lead me to today's creation.  Dessert is always big on valentine's Day and I wanted to make something with a little cuteness to it.  Something with red, white, and pink sprinkles to remind me of my childhood.  


I've always loved shortbread and saw a post on Pinterest of some shortbread cut into little "bites".  I immediately thought Valentine's Days with pretty colored sprinkles.  Those would be so cute...and they are!

Aren't these just adorable??  I think they are too cute, and because they are so small you won't feel guilty eating 1 or 7!


Oh, and did I mention that these little bites have a hint of citrus?  They do, so they are lightly flavored with orange.  I used an orange extract, however, you can use orange zest and they will come out perfect!  That orange flavor just brightens these up just a bit and make you go Mmmmnn!


They are just perfect to share with the kids, neighbors, co-workers, or your loved ones.  These are wonderful cookies that are easy to make, and everyone is sure to love.  

Enjoy and Happy Valentine's Day!





Valentine's Day Citrus Shortbread Bites

makes 110 1/2" cookies



1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp orange extract or 1 tsp orange zest
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp valentine sprinkles (red, white, and pink), divided 

Place a sheet of parchment paper in a 8x8 inch square baking dish, allowing the ends to hang over by about 2 inches.  

In a medium bowl using an stand or hand held electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until well blended.  Add orange extract and mix to combine.  Slowly add the flour and mix until combined.  Fold in 1 Tablespoon of sprinkles.  


Dump the dough in the prepared pan and pat out to fill the entire pan.  Using the back of a measuring cup, press the dough so it smooths out the rough top and fills all the corners.  Add the other 1 Tablespoon of sprinkles on the top and press into dough.  Chill dough for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bake 8 - 12 minutes. They are done when they are set but still soft and very lightly browned.  They will harden when they cool.  Cool for 15 minutes in the pan.  Lift dough out of the pan using the overhanging parchment paper.   Using a serrated knife cut into 1/2-inch strips down the length.  Then cut 1/2 inch strips the opposite way to make squares.  



Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Game Date Eats: Buffalo Chicken Sliders


Are you working on your Super bowl menu?  It's almost time for the big game!

We always make a spread which can include dip, chili, pizza, nachos, or loaded fries.  This is what I call pub food.  It's easy to grab and dig in and goes great with beer.  Haha!  Can't forget the libations!

I'm thinking that these Buffalo Chicken Sliders need to be on the menu this year. They are super easy to make and everyone loves them.  It's a riff off of the buffalo wings everyone love and what's better than baby sandwiches?  not much!



Using the slow cooker to make the chicken filling makes this dish easy and hands free!  Chicken breasts cook in a buffalo sauce mixture to create some succulent filing for your sandwiches. Use a good buffalo sauce (bottled) like Frank's Wing Sauce, (Buffalo) or Sweet Baby Ray's Buffalo Wing Sauce. 

The filling can also be used on lettuce cups, nachos, as a salad topping, or on large hamburger buns. 



But for today, we're using slider buns. I like my buns toasted to give it a little crunch, but you can leave them plain if you want.  Top the buffalo chicken filling with a little blue cheese dressing and you have one tasty meal.  Yum! 

I guarantee that everyone will love it!




Buffalo Chicken Sliders


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 c Frank's Wing Sauce, Buffalo or Sweet Baby Ray's
12 slider buns, toasted
Blue Cheese Dressing


Place the chicken breasts in the slow cooker.  Cover with the buffalo sauce. Place the lid on and cook on high for 4 hours.  

Remove chicken and shred with two forks.  Return to the slow cooker and stir to cover with the sauce.

Serve on toasted slider buns with blue cheese dressing.  




Monday, February 1, 2016

Bakery Style Dark Chocolate Chip Muffins


Ah chocolate.....!

I've always loved chocolate and over the years my taste has changed to really favor dark chocolate.  The deep bittersweet taste just does it for me.

So what's better than chocolate?  Hot, melted, gooey chocolate!



I have a craving that needs fixing for melted, gooey chocolate.  So I grabbed my muffin pan and created a Bakery Style (big) Dark Chocolate Chip Muffin.  Oh my, these are soooo good!

Bursting with dark chocolate gooeyness, these moist and tender muffins are pure heaven!  Plus, they are big, bakery style muffins, so you really only need one.  Oh, go ahead and eat two if you can't help yourself.  



Perfect for a brunch, snack, or weekend breakfast.  These muffins will having you saying ahhhh!

Enjoy!




Bakery Style Dark Chocolate Chip Muffins

serve 6

1 egg
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/4 cup canola Oil
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray a 6 cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl whisk egg.  Add the milk, and canola oil to the egg and whisk to combine.  Add your flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Stir until just combined. Do not over mix. Fold in dark chocolate chips.  

Scoop batter into the muffin pan filling almost to the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Serve.


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