Thursday, June 22, 2017

Overnight French Toast Casserole

I got a text message the other night from my friend across the  street asking to borrow vanilla extract. We have this relationship where we can pretty much ask to borrow anything from each other, which is awesome. I asked her what she was making, and she told me a french toast casserole to eat the next morning for breakfast. When I got the vanilla back, I asked her how it was, and she said it was pretty amazing. After she sent me the recipe, I decided to make it for a staff breakfast. It was so easy to make and so very delicious. I made it again last Friday for Greg to have for his Father's Day weekend full of good breakfasts and dinners. He loved it. We enjoyed it a couple mornings with strawberries and fresh whipped cream on the side. I loved how simple this was to make, and you will too! Enjoy.

Recipe for Overnight French Toast Casserole

One loaf sourdough bread (I used a loaf of Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse sourdough - discarded the heels, though)
7 eggs
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
1 TBSP pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
8 TBSP. of unsalted butter, well chilled and then cut into 1/2 TBSP pieces
Pure maple syrup, for serving (optional)

Grease a 9 X 13 baking pan well with butter. Cut bread into roughly 1-inch squares and layer evenly in pan. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, cream, sugars, and vanilla until well mixed. Pour evenly over the bread. Cover the pan and put into the fridge overnight.

In a smallish bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add in the chilled butter pieces and cut with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles fine pebbles. Put into an airtight container and put into the fridge overnight.

When ready to make the french toast casserole the next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the baking pan and the sugar mixture from the fridge. Once the oven is heated, place the baking pan with the bread and egg mixture in oven for 7 minutes, then remove. Sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly over the top. Place back into oven and cook for another 35 - 40 minutes. Remove from oven, place on cooling rack and let it cool for about 10 minutes before serving. Cut into servings and drizzle each serving with pure maple syrup.

Makes approximately 12 servings. 
Recipe source: The Pioneer Woman

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Creamy Tomato Soup

I have been trying to eat healthy again lately. Someone I know (not well) asked me if I was pregnant a few weeks ago, so I decided I needed to start making some changes again to my diet. She obviously has no filter and I probably wasn't wearing the most flattering outfit, but I really did gain at least 5 pounds over the winter holiday. I have been using a few recipes from the The Oh She Glows vegan cookbook, and I am loving them. This vegan creamy tomato soup recipe is one of the recipes I have tried and loved.  I added feta cheese as a garnish (you can find vegan feta cheese if you want to try it) along with some kalamata olives. You can also leave the feta out and use croutons as a garnish. Greg and I both think that this soup is comfort food. The other day he was eating a bowl of it, and he said "this soup is off the hook!" I don't think I have ever heard Greg describe anything as being "off the hook."

Serve it with toasted and buttered/olive oil brushed french bread. It's delicious! Enjoy.

Recipe for Creamy Tomato Soup

1/2 cup of raw cashews, soaked in water for two hours
2 cups of vegetable broth
1 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil
A pinch or two of sugar (optional - if you choose to caramelize the onions)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 can of San Marzano peeled Italian plum tomatoes (28 - 32 ounces)
1 can of tomato paste (3 - 4 Tbsp.)
6 Tbsp. of sundried tomatoes in oil (with oil drained off)
1/2 tsp. of dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 to 3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. dried oregano
a pinch or two of cayenne pepper
chopped kalamata Olives
Feta (optional - for garnish- you can find vegan feta)
Crushed red pepper flakes

Drain the water out of the cashews. Place the cashews in a food processor or blender with the vegetable broth and puree until smooth. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add the onion and cook for 7 - 8 minutes, then add in the garlic and cook for an additional minute. *If desired, add a pinch of sugar in with the olive oil and onions and then cook for 15 minutes to lightly caramelize before adding in the garlic and cooking for one minute. Allow onion and garlic mixture to cool slightly. Add the plum tomatoes and their juices, tomato paste, sundried tomatoes, and slightly cooled onion mixture to the blender or food processor. Mix until smooth. Pour mixture into the pot that you cooked the onions and garlic in. Heat over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Stir in the oregano, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and thyme. Continue to simmer over medium heat for 20 - 25 minutes. Ladle soup into bowls. Top each with a tablespoon of feta cheese (vegan or regular), sliced kalamata olives, crushed red pepper flakes, freshly ground black pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.
This soup gets more flavorful and taste even better leftover the next day! Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Makes approximately 6 servings.

Recipe Adapted from: The Oh She Glows Cookbook

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Chocolate Silk Pie

This year, I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time. For the last several years, Greg and I have talked a lot about how we do not think turkey needs to be a part of a Thanksgiving meal. Nobody really talks too much about the turkey, but everyone always raves about the sides. A couple years ago, we were going to host my parents, but we ended up going out of town at the last minute. That year, we decided we would serve salmon instead of turkey when we hosted Thanksgiving. This Thanksgiving, we served pan seared chicken, salmon, candied sweet potatoes, spinach salad, and brussel sprouts. My mother brought green beans, stuffing, rolls, and cranberry sauce. I felt like our meal did not weigh us down or make us tired, so we were able to go heavy on the dessert. Instead of making an apple pie or pumpkin pie, I went with this decadent chocolate silk pie. It was declared by my mother as the best pie she has ever had (in her 70 years of life), and my in-laws absolutely loved it. Wendy was in heaven when she got her small slice of pie. After each bite, she said, "It's really good, mommy!" It is that good. If you want a true chocolate treat, try this pie. This may not happen to everyone, but I seriously could feel the endorphins being released from my brain with every bite that I took. This chocolate silk pie tastes really good, and it might even make you feel really good, too! Enjoy.

Recipe for Chocolate Silk Pie 

Pie crust
1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. of granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. of kosher salt
1 stick of very cold butter, chopped into small chunks
3 - 4 Tbsp. of ice-cold water
For the chocolate filling 
1 cup of heavy whipping cream, chilled 
9 ounces of bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips)
3 eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. of water
1 stick (8 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 Tbsp. of pure vanilla extract
Fresh whipped cream, for topping 
Chocolate shavings or ground chocolate, for topping (optional)

For the pie crust
Place the flour, salt, and sugar into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse briefly to just combine. Add in the very cold pieces of butter. Pulse several times until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (about the size of peas). With the food processor running, slowly pour a tablespoon of the water through the feed tube. Continue to pour in more water, a tablespoon at a time. After you have poured in 3 tablespoons of water, add in the fourth tablespoon if the dough has not yet left the sides of the bowl. Allow the food processor to keep running until the dough completely leaves the sides of the bowl and forms into a ball. Carefully remove the dough from the food processor and wrap in saran wrap or seal in a plastic bag. Put into the refrigerator for 45 minutes. Roll cooled dough out into a 12 inch circle and put into a 9 inch pie pan. Trim and fold edges, then cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer for 30 minutes.
Adjust an oven rack to the lower middle position. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut a piece of parchment paper to place over the pie plate so it covers the plates edges. Fill with pie weights. Place in over and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, carefully remove the weights and parchment paper, and lower oven temperature to 350 degrees. Place the pie crust back into the oven and cook for another 8 - 10 minutes, watching carefully until crust is golden but don't let it burn. Allow to cool completely.

For the pie filling
Whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Place into an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. 
Melt the chocolate in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature. Put the eggs, water, and sugar into a saucepan and gently stir together. Set over a pan of simmering water and use an electric hand mixer and mix on medium speed until the mixture is thickened and 160 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer (about 8- 10 minutes). Remove from heat and continue to mix on medium speed for about 8 more minutes (or until the mixture is cooled to room temperature and fluffy). Add the cooled chocolate into the egg mixture and mix on medium low speed until incorporated. Stir in the pure vanilla extract. Then add in the butter, one tablespoon at a time, blending well after each addition. Add in the whipped cream and use a spatula to gently fold in until there are no streaks. Spread the chocolate filling evenly into the prepared pie shell. Cover and place in the fridge to firm up before serving (at least 3 hours). Top with freshly whipped cream and chocolate. 
Recipe Source: Annie's Eats, which was slightly adapted from Cook's Illustrated Entertaining Spring 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

Guess what? You need these chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes in your life right now. I bet it is dark when you are waking up in the morning and even darker when you are coming home after an exhausting day at work, and there is probably not too much that can get you out of your funk.  These chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes are here to help. Just like the cookie dough truffles, there is no raw egg in the cookie dough filling. The mixture is made up everything that is good in life,  like butter, brown sugar, condensed milk, flour, vanilla, and chocolate chips. 

I got together with a friend a few weekends ago, and we made these cupcakes for the first time. I had seen them before and thought about making them, but I always thought they looked too involved. Hey, they really are a little involved, but they aren't too tricky, and they are well worth the extra time in the kitchen.

So, what are you waiting for? Go make some chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes and put a smile back on that face. Enjoy!

Recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

For the cupcakes
3 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups of light brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
2 2/3 cup of all-purpose flour
1 tsp. of baking powder
1 tsp. of baking soda
1/4 tsp. of salt
1 cup of 2% or whole milk
2 tsp. of pure vanilla extract
1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips

For the cookie dough filling
4 Tbsp. of unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 Tbsp. of light brown sugar, packed
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. of all-purpose flour
7 ounces of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 tsp. of pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup of semisweet chocolate chips (regular or miniature)

For the cookie dough frosting
2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/4 cup of powdered (confectioners') sugar
2/3 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. of salt
2 Tbsp. of milk
2 tsp. of pure vanilla extract

Extra chocolate chips, for topping cupcakes

For the cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. Put the butter and the brown sugar in a large mixing bowl and use an electric hand mixer to mix on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 - 4 minutes. Then add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl and stir together. Add one third of the flour mixture into the butter mixture and beat on low speed, then add 1/2 cup of the milk and beat again on low speed. Continue alternating and end with the dry ingredients, mixing each time until just incorporated. Add in the vanilla extract and mix. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Divide the batter evenly into the paper liners. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

For the cookie dough filling
Once cupcakes are in the oven, make the cookie dough filling. Combine the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and mix on medium high speed with an electric had mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Then mix in the flour, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. Cover the bowl and put in fridge until mixture is firm, about one hour.

To stuff the cupcakes
When cupcakes are cooled, add in the cookie dough! Cut a cone-shaped portion (or use a spoon and scoop) out of the center of each cupcake. Fill each hole with a ball of the cookie dough mixture. Use all of the filling to stuff the cupcakes - the more you have, the better the cupcake!

For the frosting
Put the butter and brown sugar into a medium mixing bowl and use an electric hand mixer set on medium high speed to beat until creamy. Add in the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth. Add in the flour and salt and mix until just incorporated. Pour in the milk and vanilla extract and beat until smooth and well incorporated.

Frost the cupcakes, top with chocolate chips, and celebrate!

*Recipe makes approximately 2 dozen cupcakes.
Store cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge.