Monday, June 20, 2016

Blueberry Baked French Toast

True confessions: until now, I have never made baked french toast, french toast casserole, overnight french toast, whatever you want to call it. I've pinned several recipes, but just never did anything about it. So when I was assigned to Tara's Multicultural Table for Secret Recipe Club and I found this recipe, it was just the push I needed to actually make this dish.

And I'm so glad I did. We had it for brunch this past weekend, and my family ate the whole thing, and then asked if there was more. It was a huge hit. It's extremely easy to put together and can bake while some of the family is sleeping in. (Someone will have to get up to turn on the oven and put in the dish, but only one person. Maybe you won't draw the shortest straw on that one.)

Tara's recipe used strawberries, but I had a lot of blueberries on hand and so used those instead. I think this would be amazing with any berries, or with any combination. I'm already thinking of other great adjustments, like apples and cranberries, or apples with a caramel syrup, or pumpkin! There's lots of baked french toast in my future.

Be sure to check out all the other great recipes on Tara's blog, too...I am kind of ashamed that I was assigned Tara's Multicultural Table and I chose a decidedly American breakfast... although in my defense, French is in the name. She has a ton of really fascinating recipes from all over the globe. There's lots of inspiration there.

Get yourself some French bread and have a wonderful breakfast!

Find more good ideas at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up.

Blueberry Baked French Toast

4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar + 1 tablespoon, divided
pinch cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla
6 cups cubed day old French bread (less than a 1 pound loaf)
1 cup blueberries, divided

In a large bowl or batter bowl, combine eggs, milk, cream, 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Whisk until well combined. Fold in the bread and 3/4 cup of blueberries. Pour into a lightly greased 9" round baking dish, cover, and refrigerate 8 hours to overnight.

Remove casserole from refrigerator =lace remaining blueberries evenly over top of casserole.

Bake at 350 until set and top begins to turn golden, 35-45 minutes. During the last 10 minutes in oven, sprinkle the top with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Let sit 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Serves 6-8.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa and Cilantro Lime Crema

We love tacos at our house. Any fillings, any combos, flour or corn, hard or soft shell - it's all good. Shrimp tacos are one of our favorites. These Chipotle Shrimp Tacos have been my go-to for a long time, but there are so many great shrimp taco recipes and ideas out there that I decided I had to try another variety. This one is GREAT.

I love food that is colorful and this fits the bill. But it also has to be tasty. And it is. I love the combo of flavors AND textures here. Crunchy cabbage, ripe mango, creamy sauce, shrimp with a simple chili powder rub - they all combine to make a GREAT dinner. This recipe is also perfect for summer because it involves having a burner on for precisely one minute. (A few more minutes for the tortillas, too, I guess....but certainly not more than 5 minutes total!)

I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

There's more great ideas at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Create Link Inspire, Clever Chicks, Tasty Tuesday, Fabulous, Show and Share, Hearth and Soul, What's Cooking, Wow Us, Full Plate, Foodie Friday, Friday Frenzy.

Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa and Cilantro Lime Crema

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound large cooked shrimp
chili powder and salt to taste

Mango Salsa:
1 cup mango, finely diced (about 1 medium mango)
1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 of a jalapeno pepper, minced
juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, finely chopped

Cilantro Lime Crema:
1 cup sour cream (light is ok)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
2 tsp. lime juice
1 1/2 tsp. honey
1/4 cup salsa verde

1 cup shredded purple cabbage or regular coleslaw mix
8 corn or flour tortillas

For the shrimp: Heat the olive oil over high heat in a large pan. Season both sides of the shrimp with chili powder and salt to taste. Place the shrimp in a single layer in the pan and saute for one minute.

For the mango salsa: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, add salt to taste. Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes, up to 4 hours for the flavors to blend.

For the cilantro sauce: Place all ingredients in the food processor; process until sauce is smooth and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve: Warm the tortillas. Add a spoonful of sauce, a handful of cabbage and place the shrimp on top of the cabbage. Top with mango salsa and serve immediately.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Dinner at the Zoo

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Caramel and White Chocolate Cookies

I love finding a great new cookie recipe. It does limit my wardrobe options, because then I eat way too many of said new cookie, but it's worth it. These cookies have lots of things I love. I find it easy to resist traditional chocolate chip cookies (I can see many of you reacting in horror!) but change those to white chocolate chips and I'm a goner. Add caramel bits, and watch out! These cookies are also studded with oatmeal, and I subbed coconut oil for some of the butter, so there are a few redeeming qualities. And it's those qualities that make me excuse my eating of several of these at a time...

Find more great stuff at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Create Link Inspire, Clever Chicks, Fabulous, Show and Share, Hearth and Soul, What's Cooking, Wow Me, Wow Us, Full Plate.

Caramel and White Chocolate Cookies

1 3/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup caramel bits

Combine the sugar, melted butter and coconut oil in a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the flour, oatmeal, baking soda, and salt to the wet ingredients. Stir to combine. Add the chocolate chips and caramel bits. Stir well to make sure they are evenly distributed.

Use a cookie scoop to portion the dough into slightly smaller than golf ball sized rounds and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 325 for 13-14 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 1-2 minutes on the baking sheet. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Barefeet in the Kitchen

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Perfect St. Louis or Baby Back Ribs

It's grilling season! We love grilling practically year round, which is saying something for Minnesota, but now that summer is officially here (Memorial Day is the official start in our neck of the woods)we can really put that grill to use. My family LOVES ribs. And while I've always made the boneless country-style ribs in the crock pot, there are members of my clan who love their baby back ribs. I've tried a few ways to make these, and this is my favorite. Ribs are cooked for many hours at a low heat in the oven, and then finished on the grill for that nice crunchy texture.

They practically fall off the bone. Delicious. The secret for both texture and flavor is that the ribs sit on a "shelf" of onions - water below helps steam the meat but the meat doesn't sit in the liquid. The only hard part about this recipe is enduring the tantalizing aroma from the oven and knowing you have to wait several hours to eat!

If it's pouring rain, or you want ribs in the middle of a snow storm, don't worry. You can also finish these in the oven. Either way, they are absolutely scrumptious.

Get more great ideas at Full Plate, Hearth and Soul, What's Cooking, Wow Me, Wow Us, Foodie Friday.

Perfect St. Louis or Baby Back Ribs

2 racks baby back ribs (or St. Louis style ribs)
Garlic powder
Barbecue sauce
3-4 onions, peeled
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1/2 cup beer or water

Season both sides of ribs liberally with salt, pepper, garlic and paprika; set aside.

Slice onions into 1/2" rings and place them in the bottom of a large roasting pan (or two smaller ones – use whatever you need so that the ribs can cook in a single layer). This is to create a layer that will keep the ribs elevated so that they’re never sitting in liquid.

Pour just enough beer or water into the pan to cover the bottom. Add liquid smoke to the beer.

Arrange rib racks in a single layer on top of onion slices. Cover pan tightly with two layers of aluminum foil. Bake at 300 degrees for 4 hours. Remove ribs from oven and uncover.

Brush ribs with barbecue sauce and place on a heated grill. Grill over indirect heat for 15-20 minutes until meat shreds from the bones easily and the outside texture is crispy to your liking. (Alternatively, return the ribs to the oven for 15-20 minutes after covering with sauce.)

Recipe Source: Methods adapted from South Your Mouth and Jenny Can Cook

Monday, May 23, 2016

Macaroni and Cheese {Instant Pot Recipe!}

Here's another great recipe for the Instant Pot or other version of electric pressure cooker. I love that this recipe is EASIER and FASTER than making mac and cheese from a box, and it contains only REAL FOOD. You will be amazed at how quickly you can get this on the table. You'll barely have time to make side dishes. I also recently made a batch to take in to a friend who needed a meal and the pasta cooked while I was in the shower. It's just that fast. (And needless to say, I didn't have to worry about the pasta boiling over on the stove top!)

We love to have a mac and cheese "bar" at our house and have toppings like bacon, kielbasa, broccoli and peas. However you decide to serve this, as a side or as a main, or as a quick lunch, it will be quickly devoured by everyone!

Find more great stuff at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Create Link Inspire, Clever Chicks, Fabulous, Show and Share, Hearth and Soul, What's cooking, Wow me, Wow us.

Macaroni and Cheese {Instant Pot Recipe!}

1 pound elbow macaroni, small shells or other small pasta shape
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard or 1 tsp. dried mustard
1 tsp. hot pepper sauce
2 tsp. salt
4 cups water
1 - 12 oz. can evaporated milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded colby jack cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Stir the macaroni, butter, mustard, hot pepper sauce, salt, and water in the pressure cooker pot. Lock the lid on the pressure cooker and cook on high pressure for 4 minutes in an electric pressure cooker. (For the Instant Pot, use Manual mode, 4 minutes.) When the cooking time is done, quick release the pressure and remove the lid.

Turn the electric pressure cooker to keep warm mode (with the Instant Pot, after the pressure release it will stay on warm automatically), and stir in the evaporated milk. Stir in the cheese one cup at a time, stirring constantly and waiting for the cheese to melt before adding the next cup. Serve immediately as a side or top with meats and vegetables. Serves 6-8.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Dad Cooks Dinner

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Rhubarb Dream Bars

I'm not lucky enough to have my own rhubarb plants (I should do something about that) but I am lucky that friends and family share their bounty. I usually dice up the rhubarb and keep it in the freezer in 2 cup batches, which is perfect for when I come across a recipe like this! I made this for dessert for Mother's Day and it was a huge hit. Of course, most desserts that start with a shortbread crust are a huge hit. And this one is doubly good because of the rhubarb sitting on top of the aforementioned crust.

This dessert comes together quickly, which is another bonus. Served with vanilla ice cream, it's sure to be a hit at your house on any day!

Find more great stuff at Create, Link, Inspire, Clever Chicks, Fabulous, Full Plate, Foodie Friday, Friday Frenzy.

Rhubarb Dream Bars

1 cup flour
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, cut into cubes

2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups diced rhubarb

To make the crust: Pulse the flour, powdered sugar and butter in a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (If you don't have a food processor, combine the flour and sugar in a large bowl, then cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.)

Line a 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, ensuring the paper comes up on the sides so you can lift the bars out later.

Press the crust mixture into the paper-lined pan and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. The crust will still remain very pale in color.

While crust is baking mix together eggs, sugar, flour and salt and whisk well. Stir in rhubarb. Pour onto the hot crust and continue to bake for 40-45minutes. Let the bars cool completely. Lift them out of the pan with the parchment paper edges and then cut into squares. Refrigerate the bars if you're not serving them right away, and refrigerate leftovers.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Noshing with the Nolands

Monday, May 16, 2016

Tortellini with Italian Sausage, Brussels and Mushrooms

Here are a few of my favorite things: brussels sprouts, mushrooms, easy dinners, yummy food, Italian sausage, parmesan cheese sauces, eating supper on the deck, leftovers that are better than the original dish for lunch the next day. Wow! This recipe has all of the above!

Lauren has a great blog,
Sew You Think You Can Cook
, with lots of recipes to choose from. I was happy to be assigned to it for Secret Recipe Club as I had made the Candy Cane Bundt Cake for our Christmas reveal last November. I loved perusing her blog then, and it was even more fun this time cause I could choose from ANY recipe, not just the Christmas-themed ones!

So, as I said above, I love all the ingredients in this recipe! And I love that it comes together quickly for a weeknight dinner. And I love that it tastes great. And that the leftovers the next day are excellent as well. I also think that you could "trick" your kids (if you need to!) by using all shaved brussels in this recipe - I put mine through the food processor to slice them... of course, the mushrooms might prove to be trickier to disguise (what is it with kids and mushrooms by the way???).

In any case, make this pasta dish!

Find more great recipes at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up.

Tortellini with Italian Sausage, Brussels and Mushrooms

18 oz cheese tortellini or ravioli
2 links Italian sausage, casings removed
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups chopped mushrooms
2 cups sliced Brussels sprouts
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. rosemary leaves, crushed
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 C milk
1 1/2 Tbsp. flour
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Strain, reserving some of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, over medium-high heat, cook the sausage, breaking it up. When fully cooked remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add olive oil and butter to the skillet. Saute mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, and rosemary until tender, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and cook another 60 seconds, until fragrant. Add the chicken broth, and scrape up any stuck bits in the pan, and cook and stir until the liquid has evaporated.

In a measuring cup whisk together the milk and flour. Slowly add the milk to the pot, stirring to prevent lumps. Bring to a gentle boil and melt in the cheese. Add in the cooked ravioli and sausage. If the sauce is too thick, add some of the reserved pasta water. Serves 6.

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