French Toast Bread Pudding (AKA “Overnight French Toast Casserole”)

I’m not sure who started the concept of “Baked French Toast” and the not so distant relative of such a dish known as the “French Toast Casserole” but the last time I checked, these seemingly new dishes, (cultivated by massive amounts of online recipes) are all just bread pudding recipes.

[Sorry, interwebz.  I'm just calling it like I see it.]

French-Toast-Bread-Pudding

 

So, if you’ve been drinking the baked french toast kool-aid, allow me to explain a bit.  You see, bread pudding takes pieces of day old bread and soaks them in a buttered dish with an egg custard (usually it’s an overnight soak).  This egg custard can be flavored anyway you’d like, but I personally prefer mine with a bit of maple syrup, a sprinkle of brown sugar, and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg.  You could add some bits of dried fruit if you’d like.  Then that ‘s baked in a preheated oven until firm.  It’s then served warm with fresh fruit and maybe a bit of whipped cream or confectioner’s sugar.

Is this sounding familiar?  Yeah…That’s because that new “baked french toast casserole recipe” that you found on the internet is actually just bread pudding that’s been baked a few minutes longer.

However, to simplify things (and hopefully people’s search results) I’ve re-merged these “two” completely (not) different dishes into one.   I mean, I’m on the internet too.  I might as well be part of the solution (problem?) and remind people that “baked french toast casserole” is actually just bread pudding.  If I’m wrong, I’d love to hear why because I’ve looked into it and from where I sit, I’m definitely the opposite of wrong.

And, to be honest, no matter if you call this, “I invented the internet and the wheel and sliced bread ..breakfast dish” it still tastes good, so I give credit where it’s due.   But, that’s just a really bad title.

French Toast Bread Pudding

Serves: 8

Prep: Overnight

Bake Time:  40 minutes

(AKA “Overnight French Toast Casserole”)

  • butter, for baking dish
  • 8-10 slices of mixed sandwich bread cut in half or 1 loaf of french bread with ends removed (must be standard, not baguette sized) cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 7 extra large eggs, whipped until pale yellow
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup hot buttered maple syrup (maple syrup with a pat of butter melted into it)
  • 2 cups whole milk, more if needed
  • sprinkle of sea salt
  • confectioner’s sugar, fresh fruit, lightly sweetened whipped cream (optional) for serving.

Rub softened butter onto all sides of a 9×13 inch baking dish (See note*).

Take your whipped eggs and add vanilla, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Add milk to the hot buttered maple syrup [to temper it] and stir.  Pour milk into eggs and whisk.  Pour egg custard over the bread in your buttered dish.  Cover and place in refrigerator over night, or for at least three hours.

To bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Remove cover from the baking dish and place on a baking pan (in case it bubbles over).   Sprinkle the top with sea salt and bake in preheated oven for 35 to 50 minutes, depending on how firm you prefer it to be and the dimensions of your pan.

Allow to cool slightly and serve with fresh fruit, lightly whipped cream and/or confectioner’s sugar if desired.

*Note: 9×9 (3 inches high) 9×12 or 9×13 (2 inches high)  or 9×15 (1 inch high) or anywhere between will work fine, it will only vary how much surface area you have, much like brownies.  If you have more surface area, the bread pudding will bake (and concurrently dry out) more quickly, so you will need less baking time.

Additional notes: If some of the bread looks dry after soaking overnight, you may add an additional splash of milk before baking.  The amount of liquid needed will vary depending on the type of bread used and how much liquid that bread is capable of absorbing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Savory Watermelon Panzanella

Watermelon-Pazanella

 

Panzanella is a classic summer salad that requires little effort and zero cooking.  It’s easy, delicious and can be served as a complete meal, especially on an exceptionally heat-ridden day as we have here, today.

This particular version has a twist, though.  Since we’re about a week or two shy of full blown tomato season, I figured I’d use half tomatoes and half watermelon and then balance out that extra sweetness with some acidity (balsamic) and some  heat (red pepper).   As the salad sits, the extra crusty bread soaks up the sweet juices of the watermelon, the freshness of the cucumbers and the sweet yet savory ripe tomatoes which plays nicely off of the balsamic vinaigrette.

It’s very refreshing and light yet satisfying and easy.   It’s perfect for today.

 

Savory Watermelon Panzanella

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4 as a meal, 6-8 as a starter course or side dish

for the balsamic vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup aged balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced sweet red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey

for the salad

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes, deseeded (about 2 tomatoes)
  • 1 1/2 cups bite sized seedless watermelon pieces
  • 2 cucumbers, deseeded and chopped into bite sized pieces (about three cups)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup packed chopped basil
  • 2 cups cubed hard crusted rustic Italian bread
  • shaved parmesan
  • extra virgin olive oil

Note:  This salad is best with high quality balsamic vinegar which is both thicker and sweeter than average.  However, if you heat lesser quality balsamic vinegar until it thickens slightly, you may use that as a substitute for the more expensive version. Also, if your bread is extra fresh, I recommend toasting before adding to the bowl so it doesn’t become mushy.

  1.  Make vinaigrette: In a large salad bowl, whisk together the vinegar, onion, garlic, red pepper, and honey.   Set aside for about ten minutes while the onions and garlic soften in the vinegar, then whisk in the olive oil.
  2. Lightly season the tomatoes, watermelon and cucumber pieces with a sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper before dropping them into the bowl with the dressing.  Add the bread pieces and basil to the salad bowl and toss everything to combine.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and finish with shaved parmesan and an additional drizzle of olive oil (optional).

 

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Strawberry Muffins

strawberry muffins Kate from Scratch

Right now, I’m supposed to be on vacation, but I made these muffins and couldn’t stop myself from grabbing a quick photo and sharing them with you before I go and do vacationy things.   Plus, they’re just too cute in their little red white and blue surroundings.  I couldn’t not post these with the Fourth of July coming up.  In addition to being perfect for the season, they are also fantastic, both in taste and texture.

They’re great to take on the road if you’re headed out to the beach this weekend or on your way to a friend or relative’s house.  They’re good for an on-the-go breakfast or a sweet afternoon snack.

Oh, and before you look at the ingredients list, allow me to explain something:

You see, I don’t bake very often and when I do, I do it right.  These muffins are not low-fat, nor are they low sugar (at all).  They are, however, delicious, moist, crumbly and perfectly speckled with cinnamon.  They’re spiked with a bit of lemon zest and hit of vanilla extract for a fuller flavor profile.  If you bake muffins every day and are in danger of muffin excess, you could reduce the butter and/or the sugar if you really wanted.  Some might add yogurt or low fat sour cream or even  applesauce in place of the oil or butter (I do not recommend that though – just eat fewer muffins).  I did not skimp on these and I didn’t regret it at all.

Next time I might add a splash of bourbon and brown the butter before adding, but I haven’t tried that yet either.

And now if you’ll forgive my brevity, I will eat a perfect strawberry muffin and then be on my way to do relaxing things and maybe even go have some fun.  Happy Fourth of July (and Happy Canada Day for all you Canadians too)!   Enjoy the long weekend.  I’ll be back in one week with massive amounts of summer recipes to share for all occasions.

See you soon.

Strawberry Muffins

Makes 24 small muffins (or 18 large muffins: see note at the bottom of the recipe for alternate baking instructions).

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 stick of butter, melted (warm, not hot)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups diced fresh strawberries
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Line 2 (12-cup standard) muffin pans with muffin/cupcake liners.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon.  Use your hand to create a well (an indentation in the shape of a small bowl) in the center of the dry ingredients.  Add buttermilk, vanilla extract, eggs, butter, oil and sugar to the well.
  4. Start with a fork (or a very small whisk if you have one) and gently mix the ingredients in the well until combined, adding as little of the dry ingredients as possible.
  5.  Now, using a rubber spatula, mix small additions of the dry ingredients into the (center) wet ingredients with each turn around the bowl.
  6. Once just combined and a little lumpy, stop mixing (do not over-mix or you will have tough muffins).   Fold in strawberries and lemon zest.
  7.   Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin pans and bake in preheated oven for approximately 13-15 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins spring back sufficiently when gently pressed.

NOTES FOR LARGER MUFFINS: If you prefer larger muffins, divide batter among 18 muffin cups and  bake for an additional 8-10 minutes for a total of 20-25 minutes (or until cake tester comes out clean or the tops of the muffins bounce back when gently pressed).

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Egg Drop Soup

Egg drop soup only requires about five ingredients and ten minutes of time, which makes it one of the easiest things to make.  It’s filling, nutritious, light, healthy and easy.  I am a big fan of all of those things.

Egg Drop Soup

Granted, you can be your naturally fancy self all you’d like and make a fantastic stock from foraged spring mushrooms and cook that low and slow for days before straining and using for this soup.  But, I’ll leave that option to you.  You can add some wilted baby bok choy or spring peas or serve with some crispy noodles if you’d like.  But, for today, on this rainy spring afternoon, I’m keeping things quite simple.

 

Egg Drop Soup

  • 2 tablespoons grated or minced fresh ginger root
  • 1/4 teaspoon sriracha (optional)
  • 1 quart (32 ounces)  prepared stock
  • 1 egg, beaten at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat medium saucepan over high heat.  Add ginger and sriracha.  Cook for seven seconds while stirring then add stock.

Bring to a rapid boil and then remove from heat.  While broth is still hot but not boiling, pour egg slowly in a thin stream while stirring broth simultaneously in one direction (creates a whirlpool effect as the egg is being poured to create ribbons).  Once egg is poured in, remove spoon to prevent further breaking of the egg.  Add scallions and sesame oil.  Cover and allow to sit for two minutes to ensure the eggs are fully cooked.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot.  Enjoy.

 

 

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Simple Garden Tomato and Basil Pasta

If you’re a bit further south than we are, I’m sure you’ll be overrun with tomatoes and zucchini soon if not already.  We’re still greeted by occasional sixty degree days and even cooler nights, so while my tomatoes were scavenged at the farmer’s market, my little diva of a basil plant happily provided.

thin and crispy neopolitan pizza-2
It’s a different sort of basil than I’m used to, and it’s called “African Blue Basil”, which is a little bit… spicy.  It’s not habanero spicy, but it has just a hint of zip, (like arugula) and pairs nicely with the super sweet cherry tomatoes.  An added bonus is the gorgeous purple flowers that grow off the top of the tall yet sturdy plant.  It’s working for me.

The canvas of the day, is just a simple (Monday) spaghetti, pan fried with garlic, olive oil, pecorino, a small egg and a few breadcrumbs to bump it up and hold the ingredients together.  It’s very easy and delicious and if you have any simply dressed pasta (salt and olive oil, maybe a pat of butter or a very thin layer of sauce – whatever your family does for a simple pasta is fine) from last night in your refrigerator, this is a great way to use it up. Any cut of pasta will do and the quantities are very malleable.  While I am required to write specific quantities, I suggest you take the creative culinary liberty on this dish.  Please go ahead and add a bit of this and that, or omit this and that, to suit your tastes and what you have on hand.  It’s one of those recipes to make your own.

I happened to add some nori and chili flakes and a handful of smoked mozzarella, because..why not?  I had it and figured it would be good and you know, it really was.  Those extra ingredients added a bit of complexity of flavor and bumped up the nutritional value as well, but aren’t necessary for the dish to be delicious.  If you prefer to omit them, feel free, it’s your house and your pasta.  I’ll never know.

Make it your own and enjoy.

Simple Garden Tomato and Basil Pasta

  • 1 pound dried pasta, prepared to al dente
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 large or 5 small cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
  • 2 cups, halved, cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup pecorino romano, + 2 tablespoons more for serving
  • 3 tablespoons seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1 small egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 large handful fresh basil leaves, plus more for serving (I used “African Blue Basil” from my garden)
  • a pinch of nori flakes (optional, for added nutrition and depth of flavor)
  • sea salt and additional red pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup diced fresh smoked mozzarella or feta (optional) if desired.
  1. Rinse your fully prepared pasta lightly under a drizzle of cold water in a colander and set aside over a bowl to drain.  Note: this rinses extra starch allowing it to not stick together in the pan.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a very large nonstick skillet or wok over medium high heat.  Add olive oil, garlic, chili flakes and cherry tomatoes and toss until fragrant (do not burn the garlic, please.  Brown garlic is not tasty).
  3. Add  pasta and egg and toss for one minute, or until egg is almost fully cooked.  Add pecorino and breadcrumbs and toss for ten to fifteen seconds more, or until egg and other ingredients are fully incorporated with pasta and evenly coating the pasta and tomatoes.
  4. Place into a large family style pasta or salad bowl and tear a large handful of basil over the top.  Add a pinch (that’s about 1-2 teaspoons) of nori flakes if you desire and have them on hand. Toss while adding salt and pepper to taste.  Add additional basil and pecorino over the top if desired.
  5. Serve warm with diced smoked fresh mozzarella or feta if desired (or alternately serve cold with a drizzle of high quality extra virgin olive oil or a side of balsamic vinaigrette as a pasta salad).
  6. Enjoy.

 

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30 Minute Thin and Crispy Pizza

A thin and crispy Neapolitan pizza made in only thirty minutes?  I had always believed that was preposterous before I discovered a special little secret known as “pizza crust yeast”.  For a fast fix, this turned out beautifully and in only a matter of minutes.  I topped it with freshly plucked basil from my herb garden and overall, I was quite impressed.

thin and crispy neapolitan pizza

30 Minute Thin and Crispy Pizza

Note: Makes one thin crust fifteen inch pizza.  The use of “pizza crust yeast” allows this particular pizza to be made within the half hour and the thin nature of it allows it to bake up fast.  Do not over-do the toppings.

Prep Time: 15 minutes     Bake Time: 15 minutes

  • 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 envelope Pizza Crust Yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup very warm water (about 125 degrees F)
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 cup sauce
  • 1 cup cheese
  • 1/2 cup toppings

Basil, for serving – optional
1.  Preheat oven to 425°F.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 1 cup flour, pizza yeast (do not dissolve), sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Add very warm water and oil.  Mix well until blended, thoroughly. Gradually add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.  Dough should form a ball and will be slightly sticky.
3.  Knead on a floured surface, adding additional flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic, about 4 or five minutes.
4.  Pat dough with floured hands into six inch disk.
a)   Directions for dough tossers:  Lift disk and toss from one hand to the other, then holding it at the edges, turn it like a steering wheel with hands until about fourteen to fifteen inches wide. Toss over fists and place on a large greased pizza pan (size of pizza dough – 15 inches- or larger).
b)  Directions for dough rollers: You may roll dough on a floured counter to 15 inch circle; place in a large greased pizza pan or baking sheet.  Form a rim by pinching the edge of the dough and allow to rest an additional five minutes before topping and baking.
5. Top with sauce, cheese and toppings of your choice, being sure not to overload the dough or add too much of anything in the center of the dough.
6. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown and bubbling.  Allow to sit about five minutes before slicing and serving with freshly plucked basil.

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Banana Bread

banana-bread-recipebanana-bread-recipeMax places his freshly washed hands upon the flour and measuring cups.  I, still in the kitchen, type in “banana bread recipe” and watch from the corner of my eye.  I’m expecting a definite go-to recipe to pop up at the top of my search results, much like it always does for classics like rice krispy treats or blondies.

He decides it’s time to get the eggs out from the refrigerator, which he does.  He then looks over and waits patiently at the table as my eyebrows furrow and I squint at the ambient glow of my laptop screen.  Did I type that wrong?  I sift through and click and re-sift, then search once again and get nothing but flooded with random excessive information.

I wonder…

I mean, it’s not that complicated.  It’s a quick-bread, for goodness sakes! And just because a recipe is deemed “standard” doesn’t mean it isn’t exceptional.  Or perhaps being standard is the exception with recipes, currently.

I mutter, “I mean, really… How can there be this many variations on such a simply delicious thing like banana bread?”

Max has flour in a bowl, and I hear *whap* as he cracks the egg and drops it effortlessly into the mixing bowl.  I quickly snap to attention, though slightly impressed by his skills (he’s only four and not a single shell).  I move to him and pick one recipe at random based on basic (awful) search engine results.  We begin testing.

Naturally this turned into a banana bread baking excursion.

The most frustrating portion of this particular project is that the differences are slight between recipes: vanilla or no vanilla, cinnamon or no cinnamon, nuts or no nuts, brown sugar or white sugar, 325 degrees or 350.  Just between us, though, I think that last difference has to do with someone’s oven running a bit hot or perhaps them baking on a low oven rack.  Or, maybe they used a different type of baking pan (glass versus nonstick yields a big difference, as you know).  It happens, though.  Back to testing.

I deciphered the recipes and compared the ingredients and quantities of each late at night.  I have baked and tested those recipes worthy of breaking a few eggs, based on known working ingredient ratios for sweet quick breads.

We taste and rate the results.

I also gave a few recipes extra points for nuts and chocolate chips (That’s totally fair).

The resulting standard banana bread is soft, fragrant with bananas and has just a hint of vanilla and cinnamon.  It doesn’t require any distinctive ingredients or fancy supplies and it allows room for further adaptation.  It’s adapted from a recipe by Tyler Florence and upon testing three times, has never done me any wrong, despite my inquisitive nature. It works no matter if I add one or two small handfuls of chocolate chips or a dash of chopped mixed nuts. It even works when I let Max measure my flour (use discretion there, though, I did help a little).

It works wonderfully every single time and it will always be delicious with unfailing certainty, which is all I ask of a banana bread recipe.

Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 (very) ripe bananas
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup nuts or chocolate chips for topping 

Confectioners’ sugar, for serving

Directions:

  1.  Place oven rack in top third of oven and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Lightly grease, or spray with cooking spray, a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  3. Prepare dry ingredients: In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl mash 2 bananas with a fork and set aside.
  5. Prepare wet ingredients: In a large mixing bowl (or stand mixer bowl),  add remaining bananas and sugar.  Whip bananas and sugar together using an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk for at least three minutes.  Add butter, eggs, and vanilla,  and cinnamon, mixing after each addition, scraping down sides as needed.  
  6. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in three additions, gently mixing until just combined after each addition.
  7. Fold in fork-mashed bananas, gently but evenly.
  8.  Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Give the pan a good rap on the counter to get any air bubbles out.
  9. Bake for about 1 hour or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. 
  10. Cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes or so, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

Note: Serve slices lightly toasted and warm with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar

 

Adapted from Tyler Florence @ Food Network.com

 

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Mom’s Day Off. Happy Mother’s Day!

Ok, kids, listen up!  Moms shouldn’t have to cook anything for anyone on Mother’s day.   Also, kids, you shouldn’t cook either.  Trust me on this one.

Unless you’re a fully grown person who knows how to cook and clean up after yourself, go with a nice dinner or brunch out, instead.  But, honestly, I’m thirty-three and I still hate cleaning, so make it easy for everyone and ask her where she wants to go to celebrate her day.

behind the scenes-3

And to the dads out there that want to make something nice for your wife.  That’s so sweet!  And, sometimes, the thought is good enough.  No …really, it is.

If there’s any possibility that she will be chiseling charcoal off a waffle iron or holding a fire extinguisher upon your newly acquired …skills… Please, logically think about what you’ve cooked recently and how it turned out.  If you can answer that question without cringing, then you can cook.  For the rest of you, there’s rarely a need for duct tape in the kitchen.  I’m just putting that one out there.

Restaurants are wonderful! Go ahead and make some reservations, and you can’t go wrong.  Or, just a day at home might be nice. There’s no need for getting fancy.  I promise.  A homemade card works.  Macaroni art?  Yes, please!  Maybe a plant.  Plants are nice.

Now that we’ve covered that, what will I blog about since I’m not offering a recipe this week?

Well, I figured I’d give you a little look at what our life is like at home.

These are unedited photos, so you know, there’s a lot of fingerprints on my oven and microwave.  You will just have to deal with that. I’ll retouch next week, maybe, or maybe we all just won’t care.  Or maybe someday I’ll actually clean all the things and those clean things will stay clean.  No, that’s not real.  That’s impossible!

1. Grandma (my mom) came to visit!  She vacuumed a lot and kept the kids entertained and brought massive amounts of candy and puzzles.  That was pretty sweet.

Love you Mom!  Happy Mother’s Day!

2. We went for a walk and saw a bunny.  Clearly, this was the Easter bunny, according to Max.   He now looks for it every day in the same spot.

behind the scenes-4

3. We went to and played at the playground almost every day. ( So. many. swings. )  Yay swings!

behind the scenes-5

Spring sprung!  I cleaned out all the baby toys without anyone noticing.

Victory!

behind the scenes-6

We have a lot of birthdays around Easter in our family, so we figured we’d celebrate everything at once and save people a trip out to our place since it’s a bit of a hike.

behind the scenes-7

The boys got swords and bikes and pool gear and headphones and games and squishy colorful stuff and a lot of things!  Thank you to all our wonderful family for coming out to celebrate with us.

behind the scenes-8

This happened.  Nobody got hurt…I’m pretty sure.

behind the scenes-9

“Look at me!  Look at me mom!  Mom!  Mom!  Mom!  Look! ”

behind the scenes-10

 

Food blogging!   Time to make the dough.  In the background you can hear the kids asking to go to the pool (it is fifty degrees here) and they want chocolate and juice boxes and a slushy maker…and, “I’ll add that to the list”.

Eventually they’ll realize there’s no actual list, right?

 

behind the scenes-12

There were a lot of birthday parties and play dates and recipes, and disasters and time-outs and laser tag and pizza and games and bike rides and nature hikes and fun.  But of course, I have no pictures of those things.  Food, though, I always have photos of food.

It’s a thing I do.

behind the scenes-14

 

Max was “Orange Max Three” last year.  Now, he’s “Red Max Four”.  It’s a long story.

 

Max 4

 

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!  Enjoy your family and go make some reservations.  If all else fails, ice cream fixes most things.   Remember that in case of emergency, eat ice cream.   It’s an important life lesson.

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Chile and Chive Oil

chile and chive oil

I use flavored oils in everything when I have them on hand.  I find myself rarely digging through the spice cabinet and instead reaching for my trusty flavored oil of the moment, whatever that might be.

It varies almost every time I make it, depending on what I want to use and what I have on hand.  I might instead make a basil chile oil in the middle of July and drizzle it over pasta or a rosemary chive oil in September and use it to brush over bread sticks.

I used this particular oil very quickly in everything from salad dressings to roasted vegetables.  I even used it in a flatbread recipe with a dusting of herbs de Provence that made for an absolutely perfect chevre and roasted pepper panini at lunch the next day.

Basically, this is an excellent means of not only using up herbs, but also making them last about five times longer and maximizing their shelf life for a multitude of recipes. If you’ve never tried it before, you should.  The simplicity and easy versatility of this ingredient make it a staple in my kitchen and I bet you’ll be hooked on it too once you try it.

Chile and Chive Oil

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup your favorite oil
  • 1 chile pepper, minced (2 tablespoons)
  • 1 bunch of chives, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Directions:

In a small saucepan over very low heat, add oil and minced chile pepper.  Once hot, add sea salt and chives.  Turn off heat and allow to cool, slightly until easy to handle.  Pour into air tight container and allow to sit for up to four hours, or refrigerate overnight.  Bring to room temperature and strain out chile and chives using a fine mesh strainer.  Once strained, keep refrigerated and use as needed for up to two weeks.

 

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Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs

perfect-hard-boiled-eggs

Happy Easter (almost) weekend everyone!  If you’re like me, you haven’t done anything whatsoever for Easter yet.  I will have about fifteen people here on Sunday to celebrate not only Easter, but also our son’s fourth birthday!  So, let’s get started with the most obvious Easter staple, hard-boiled eggs.

Hard-boiled eggs aren’t exactly the most complex thing in the world.  You put them in cold water, you bring that water to a boil and then after the eggs cook for about ten (between nine and twelve, depending on size) minutes, you cool the water gradually to prevent cracking of shells.  The only complicated part is leaving enough time to cool the water.  Because they’re still cooking  until they’re completely cooled many people end up with a green ring around the yolk.

tips-for-perfect-hard-boiled-eggs-Easter

So, basically you’re looking to get the eggs fully cooked without overcooking.   This is pretty easy as long as you have a timer.

Overcooking your eggs will give you dark gray chalky yolks, which may not be what you’re going for.  So, check the size of your eggs and cook accordingly.  I think most go wrong when following a recipe for large eggs, when in fact they have medium or small eggs or vise versa.  So, be sure to read carefully and you should be fine.  Also, for eggs that will peel easily, you shouldn’t use the freshest eggs you can find.  Easy peel eggs are a product of eggs that have been around for at least one week, maybe a week and a half, in the refrigerator.

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Now, to get cracking on these party plans.  I’ll be back next week.  Have a wonderful holiday weekend and enjoy!

Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs

1.  In a large pot (saucepan) place eggs and add cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch. Place over high heat and bring to a boil.  When the water reaches a rapid boil, turn off heat and cover.

2.   Leave the eggs in the hot water.  For large eggs, leave for 12 minutes.

Note: 9 minutes for medium eggs; 15 minutes for extra large.

3.  Drain immediately and serve warm or add running cold water in moderate increments (about two cups at a time) until cool enough to handle, then drain and place in cold water again until cooled completely.

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