April 24, 2014
Please forgive the bad photo, it was taken at the dinner table. This was so good, there was none left to photograph the next morning (The Nudge took all of it for lunch).
I have wanted to make the perfect version of a baked French toast for many years. I finally discovered the secret. What I always ended up with, was what amounted to a bread pudding, which although not a bad thing, was not what I was going for. I was going for was, once cut into a "bread slice" it would look like a slice of bread, not see cubes, like a stuffing. I chose not to saute each slice in butter, but you do what you would like. It really doesn't need it, the crust baked up golden brown & delicious.
The secret? You must tear the bread and soak it for at least 6 hours. It came out with the consistency of a freshly baked loaf of bread studded with cubes of Virginia ham and flavored with cinnamon, allspice and cardamom.
I will never did a boring slice of bread into egg wash and fry again. The compote just added to the complex flavors of this dish. Make it for any day, any time. Your family will love you for it.
It is so easy. Simply place everything in a baking pan, cover & let it do it's thing in the fridge the night before. I imagine this could easily be cooked in a slow cooker while you went about your normal day. Just follow the bread pudding cooking directions from your slow cooker recipes. Since I have a huge slow cooker (it would make enough for a dozen servings), I would have to make a ring of foil to use as a rack, just to elevate a pan (I used a large loaf pan) off the bottom (so it bakes evenly on all sides, almost like a water bath), set the timer for 4 hours, the heat on low and all that's required is to reheat before eating.
Once again I added my own twist to an original meal plan recipe, but I promise, it is not only healthy and flavorful, it is the best baked French toast you will have ever eaten.
So what exactly did I change? I used an egg substitute, fat-free half & half, a sugar sub and ham. I used the standard cinnamon but added cardamom and allspice. No vanilla extract but lite brown sugar & maple syrup. Yummy!
One 2" serving of baked French Toast (two pieces) and 1/4 cup compote is only a little over 300 calories.
I say that is a sweet nice way to end the day.
Baked French Toast Casserole
Makes: 4 servings
* 2 whole eggs
* 1/2 cup egg beaters
* 1 tablespoon Truvia
* 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
* 1 cup fat-free half & half
* Pinch of salt
* 1 tablespoon maple syrup (sugar-free is OK also)
* 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamon & allspice
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/2 pound ham steak, 1/4" cubes
* 1/2 loaf sourdough bread, hard crust removed, torn into 1 1/2" pieces
* 1/4 cup honey roasted sliced almonds
1. Toast day old torn bread on sheet pan at 250° for 30 minutes. Cool.
2. Mix first 10 ingredients till spices are incorporated.
3. Line a loaf pan or small baking dish with parchment paper that has been sprayed with a release agent. Toss the bread and ham into pan, top with almonds. Pour the egg/milk mixture over the bread, cover with plastic wrap, place a plate on top and place a weight on that. Set it in the refrigerator overnight or up to 8 hours if possible (prepare in the morning).
Makes: 1 1/2 cups
* 1/2 (14oz) can whole cranberry sauce
* 2 Bosc pears, core removed and chopped
* 1/4 cup water
* 1 tablespoon brandy (optional, the alcohol cooks out)
* 1 tablespoon maple syrup, sugar-free is fine
* 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon & cardamon
1. Place everything in a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain the fruit and simmer the sauce for another 20 minutes until it is thick and syrupy.
2. Stir the fruit back into the syrup, cool to room temp and store in a container.
April 21, 2014
When you reach my age, my cooking utensils will inevitably become someone else's treasures. I moved into my first place when I was 21 and I started my single life with all new everything. My mom was on her own and took all her cooking implements with her and my Dad, well he was not much of a cook.
There are a few kitchen tools that I bought 35 years ago that I still use every day. My stainless steel pots and pans, my box grater and one (and my only) cast iron fry pan. When you are single and only cook for one or two, the 8" is the perfect size for eggs or an omelet.
What I did discover as I married a man who loved eggs for dinner, a great way to make a really good frittata. That cast iron pan was perfect. Not only did it fit into a toaster oven, it was the perfect size for two servings.
This was probably in the top 3 frittata recipes I have prepared so far, although there is no bad frittata.
I am all about eggs with meat and vegetables with cheese. They are easy, inexpensive, an excellent user of leftovers and a one pot wonder.
What's not to love?
Yes, I added an ingredient and subbed out another. Why? Because I could and it added no extra non-no's and a whole bunch of okays. I had a small container of really good fresh salsa and instead of hash browns I used cut spaghetti for the crust.
So while The Nudge was away, and I needed a quick healthy meal for one, I immediately thought of a frittata.
Not your usual frittata, which can contain a hash brown base, I like to use leftover macaroni and Mac 'n Cheese would be my first pick but this time I had cut spaghetti's.
I took one bite and almost ate the whole frittata, I had to stop myself, I kept cutting a slice and then another and then I realized half was gone, it was that good. The chorizo gives it a spicy feel, not hot spicy, just a full flavored spice and a great counterpart to the creamy eggs and the fresh greens. I will post the recipe as was written but will add the subs at the end. Either way, spaghetti or hash browns, this is one good meal.
Once the pan was hot I added the scallions, the salsa and a splash of water. Press the pasta into the pan and when the liquid has all evaporated, add the chorizo and the Parmesan, cover and lower the heat to melt the cheese. The melted cheese will act as a binder for the crust.
Pour over the egg and greens mixture and place in the oven to set the eggs.
Once the eggs are set, turn the oven to broil and brown the top.
Can be eaten hot or at room temp.
If you are not a collard fan, or just don't have the time to cook them down, the canned version will work, just make sure to squeeze all the water out. Swiss chard was used in the original recipe but spinach makes a great substitute.
Inspiration from eatingwell.com with ingredients from my fridge
Makes: 4 servings
EatingWell: Frittatas are the ultimate no-fuss dinner, and that's why we love them for busy weeknights. In this one, we saute earthy chard, chorizo and hash browns in the pan before adding the eggs. The broiler finishes cooking the eggs and turns the top of the frittata a lovely golden brown.
* 7 large eggs
* 3 scallions (1/2 bunch), sliced
* 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 4 cups chopped chard (1 small bunch)
* 1/2 cup finely diced Spanish chorizo or pepperoni (about 2 ounces)
* 3 cups frozen shredded hash browns
1. Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler.
2. Whisk eggs, scallions, cheese, pepper and salt in a large bowl.
3. Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet (or broiler-safe nonstick skillet) over medium-high heat. Add chard and chorizo (or pepperoni) and cook, stirring frequently, until the chard is wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in hash browns. Pat the mixture into an even layer in the pan.
4. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and evenly spread to the edges. Cook over medium-high heat, lifting around the edges with a heatproof spatula to allow uncooked egg to flow under, until set around the edges, 3 to 4 minutes. Place the skillet under the broiler until the top is cooked and the eggs are slightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes.
5. To release the frittata from the pan, run the spatula around the edges, then underneath, until you can slide or lift it out onto a cutting board or serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve.
Per serving: 384 calories; 24g fat (8g sat, 12g mono); 345mg cholesterol; 22g carbohydrate; 0g added sugars; 20g protein; 3g fiber; 683mg sodium; 356 mg potassium.
Nutrition bonus: Vitamin A (57% dv), Vitamin C (22% dv), Calcium (20% dv), Iron (17% dv).
My Diabetic Recommendations: Pasta too many carbs?...make a crust using quinoa & Parmesan cheese and bake for 15 minutes to set, then continue with the recipe.
April 17, 2014
I could not wait to make this salad. I had visions of a deconstructed Waldorf, you know, with the grapes and cheese and olives and of course, almonds. Only The Nudge told me, quite authoritatively, that a Waldorf has apples and walnuts and no orzo.
Poo-poo on him. OK, let's just call it a reconstructed Waldorf-style Pasta Salad. He certainly did not go poo-poo after tasting this.
I am enamored with the Mediterranean Orzo side the Macaroni Grill serves with most of their main dishes. It gave me a reason to love orzo as a side and not just in soups. Orzo works so well in salads and supplies the chew that can support a crunch, a salty and a sweet mixture of ingredients and, allows them to shine. Some pasta salads are all pasta and can be starchy, sticky and require a ton of dressing to keep it loose. This is light and refreshing and worked well with grilled chicken breasts.
The next day, I chopped the chicken and made a chicken & orzo salad wrap, yummy! I will be making this many times this summer. It would travel well and be a nice surprise treat for picnickers.
Orzo, Grape and Blue Cheese Salad
Makes: 6 servings
* 3/4 cup orzo
* 2 tablespoons EVOO
* 1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise
* 2 tablespoons lemon juice
* 1 tablespoon honey
* Salt & pepper to taste
* 2 cups quartered green or red grape
* 1 ounce buttermilk blue cheese or, feta cheese
* 2 tablespoons almonds or, walnuts
* 2 tablespoons chopped red onion or shallot
* 2 tablespoons minced Kalamata olives
1. Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil. Add orzo and cook until just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water.
2. Whisk oil, mayo, lemon juice, honey, salt & pepper. Add the grapes, onion, almonds to the orzo. Pour over the dressing and toss to combine.