Easy French Toast

It is my mom’s birthday weekend, so I made French Toast for her. I have a super simple recipe that I use but I do recommend using whole milk. As we only had no-fat milk in the fridge, I changed my morning walk to include a gas station food mart where I picked up a pint.

Any good bread would work. I’m using a loaf of brioche. The better flavor the bread you begin with, the better French toast with which you end.

Super delicious – the interior of the bread is creamy and the outer edge was scented with the vanilla and cinnamon. She loved it and we did, too.

Easy French Toast

1 loaf good quality bread
2 cups milk
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Half a stick of butter

Slice the bread into 1 inch thick slices. Heat a flat bottom skillet until a droplet of water skitters across the surface.

Make the custard by scrambling the eggs into the milk in a pie plate. Add in the vanilla and cinnamon and whisk until combined. The cinnamon will float but that’s good as it means each piece of bread will get a little coating of cinnamon.

Use the stick of butter to grease the pan. Dredge two pieces of bread through the custard and place on the heated pan. Cook until one side is golden (about 3 minutes) and then flip. Once it is the desired doneness, remove and continue cooking the rest of the loaf. Keep the pieces warm on a rack in a 200 degree F oven.

Serve with maple, cane or Karo syrup. To be fancy, you could add a dusting of powdered sugar.

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Chocolate Cherry Scones

I’ve posted my recipe for Chocolate Cherry Sourdough Scones but, as I left my starter at home this trip, I needed to make my original version for breakfast New Year’s Eve.

The recipe makes 8 beautiful, large scones. You could do an egg wash on them but I like the melted butter.

scones

They are moist and well flavored with the bittersweet chocolate and cherries. By roughly chopping the chips and cherries, you make sure there is a bit of each in every bite.

scone

So very delicious!

Chocolate Cherry Scones

3 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (1½ sticks) chilled butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips, roughly chopped
1 egg
½ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 tablespoons melted butter
8 tablespoons sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon for topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With a pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add cherries and mix well.

Whisk together egg, milk and vanilla. Make a well in center of mixture and pour in milk mixture. Add this to the flour mixture and mix. Add in the chocolate chips and mix until just combined.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. With your hands, shape into a loose ball. Cut the dough ball in half. Flatten each half into a round about 6 to 8 inches and cut into 4 wedges. Place wedges on a baking sheet, being sure to separate each wedge so there is at least an inch between wedges. Generously brush with melted butter and sprinkle each scone with about a teaspoon of the sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm.

To freeze baked scones, let them cool completely and then wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Freeze up to 3 months. When ready to eat, let thaw at room temperature or in the fridge overnight. Heat them up in the microwave for about 30 seconds to eat them warm.

Butterscotch Pull Apart Bread

I couldn’t find any of the frozen bread dough that I use to make Overnight Monkey Bread when out grocery shopping last week. Instead, I tried using King’s Hawaiian Sweet bread and box of Jell-O Cook and Serve Butterscotch Pudding (plus butter and brown sugar).

The pudding gives it a rich, caramel flavor and the bread was perfect – sweet, soft interiors and crunchy outsides.

Ooey gooey goodness and perfect for a Christmas morning! The four of us (Mom, Dad, Michelle and I) devoured the whole thing!

Butterscotch Pull-Apart Bread

12 King’s Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
½ cup melted butter, divided
½ cup brown sugar
1 (3.5 ounce) package Jell-O Cook and Serve Butterscotch Pudding
½ cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a large casserole dish.

Cut each roll into 4 pieces. Place in a large bowl. Pour ¼ cup melted butter over the dough. Toss to coat. Add the chopped nuts and then put the buttered bread into the prepared pan. Sprinkle ½ cup brown sugar evenly over the rolls and butter. Sprinkle the dry pudding mix over the brown sugar. Top with the remaining ¼ cup melted butter.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown. If the pudding is still a little dry after 20 minutes, stir and return to the oven for 10 minutes. Let cool five minutes in the pan before running a knife around the edge to loosen. Invert over a bowl and serve.

Using a Sieve to Perfectly Poach Eggs

I found some English Muffins in the freezer and then decided I wanted to make Eggs Benedict. I’ve posted before my recipe for Easy and Foolproof Hollandaise Sauce but below is my method for poaching eggs without swirling the water to create a vortex or having too much wispy whites floating around and cloudy things up.

The white parts of eggs have two distinct textures inside the shell. The outermost white contains more water than the white that surrounds the yolk. The older an egg is, the more runny the white will be and the more wispy strands there will be. As most of us don’t have farm fresh fresh eggs, straining the eggs gets rid of the runniest part of the white.

Perfect little egg packages

I serve my poached eggs over toasted English muffins with crumbles of bacon and a generous helping of Hollandaise sauce.

The runny, golden yolks and the perfectly cooked whites of these poached eggs are delicious but when you add the hollandaise sauce, you get decadence for breakfast.

Perfectly Poached Eggs

6 cups water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 to 6 eggs

Bring a large Dutch oven with the water to the boil and then turn the heat down to low. Stir in the vinegar and place a lid on the pot.

Crack the eggs into a fine mesh sieve to allow the loose, watery whites to drain away, leaving the more solid white in place. Place the drained eggs in a measuring cup. Remove the lid from the pot and turn off the heat. Pour the eggs in, one at a time, separated by a few inches. This is why 6 eggs is about the limit for a Dutch oven. Replace the lid and set a timer for 3 minutes.

Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain. Serve immediately or put in an ice water bath to hold for up to 3 days.

If poaching the eggs in advance, when ready to serve, add boiling water to a bowl, then add the cold poached eggs and submerge for 20-30 seconds or until warmed through. Remove with a slotted spoon, dab dry and serve immediately.

Sourdough Cranberry Coffee Cake

I decided yesterday to make a coffee cake with some of the cranberry relish I found in the pantry. The jar was a little over a cup, so I used the whole thing. You could use cranberry sauce – just make sure it isn’t the canned, pureed stuff because having the cranberries in it is flavorful and adds to the eye appeal.

I went into my files for my version of Hobee’s Blueberry Coffee Cake and and decided to use that as my base (their version vs my version). I did need to extend the cooking time to account for the added liquid.

Light, tart and super tasty. A very good way to start the day and use up leftovers!

Sourdough Cranberry Coffee Cake

1 ½ cups flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup sourdough starter
2 tablespoons sour cream
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup cranberry sauce or relish

Topping

5 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8×8 baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, resift flour with baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt

In another mixing bowl, beat sugar and eggs. Stir together sour cream and sourdough starter to loosen it up and then add to the sugar/eggs mixture. Mix to combine. Add in vanilla.

Add in the flour mixture and beat until smooth. Stir in the cranberry sauce just until combined. Pour into prepared pan.

For the topping: In a small bowl, mix sugar with the butter and cinnamon with a sturdy fork, until they are blended and no loose sugar remains. Add in pecans and stir to combine. Sprinkle topping over batter.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a clean toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out dry.

Cool slightly; serve warm or at room temperature.

Raisin Bran Muffins

Regular readers of this blog know my girlfriend is much more health conscious in her eating than I am. Case in point is our cereal shelf – I have a box of Frosted Flakes next to her box of Bran Flakes. I was doing my spring clean-out and saw that her box of Bran Flakes was getting a little old – not quite stale but needing to be used.

To make some good girlfriend points, I decided to make her Bran Muffins. I knew, however, I wouldn’t be able to eat them without also adding raisins and cinnamon so I altered the recipe from my mom’s recipe box.

The muffins are pretty darn tasty for something so good for you! Nice and light with a touch of sweet from the raisins. Enjoy!

Raisin Bran Muffins

24 paper baking cups
2 cups bran flakes cereal, I used Post Bran Flakes
1 ½ cups milk
1 cup raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup packed brown sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat the oven to 400°F. Place a paper baking cup in each cup of two 12 cup regular-size muffin tins (24 muffins total).

Place cereal in a bowl and use the bottom of glass to crush cereal into fine crumbs. Pour in milk, raisins and vanilla and mix well. Let stand about 5 minutes or until cereal has softened. Beat in the oil and egg with a fork.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together until well mixed. Fold flour mixture into cereal mixture just until no flour streaks remain. The batter will still be lumpy. Spoon the batter into the cups, dividing batter evenly.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Immediately remove from pan to a cooling rack. Serve warm or once cooled.

Muffins can be frozen after they’ve cooled completely.

Eggy Panettone

Not so much a recipe as a method, as it all comes down to how much panettone you have left. This tall brioche-like Italian holiday bread is filled with small bits of fruit and nuts. It is delicious but I can never eat a whole one myself before it goes stale.

Instead of throwing it out and instead of making French toast which adds cream, vanilla and cinnamon to the egg mixture, I stick with the more stodgy British version of eggy bread using just eggs, milk and a little salt and pepper.

Heat a large bottom skillet or pancake pan over medium heat. You need about 2 eggs and a tablespoon of milk for every 3 slices of panettone. Whisk the eggs and milk together in a pie plate with just a pinch of salt and pepper. Place three slices of bread into the egg mixture and then coat the skillet with a little butter. Flip the bread to coat the other side and, once it has soaked in some more of the eggy mix, gently transfer to the skillet. Cook each side about 3 minutes or until golden. Repeat with remaining bread and serve.

Toppings are your choice – Mom put on Karo syrup, Dad used maple syrup and I ate mine just plain with some bacon on the side.

So very sweetly delicious!

Chorizo Scrambled Eggs with Cheese Grits

Chorizo is a slightly spicy pork sausage seasoned with chili powder, garlic, cumin, oregano and other Mexican herbs and spices. As it can be a little spicy for me, I serve it with grits so I can cut the heat with the corn meal.

This is also the perfect scrambled eggs to put in a flour tortilla for a breakfast burrito.

I totally forgot to take a picture of the finished dish. Take my word for it that it tastes better than it looks.

Chorizo Scrambled Eggs with Cheese Grits

1 cup old fashioned grits (not instant)
2 cups water
2 cups milk
8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated

1 lb Mexican chorizo sausage
6 large eggs, lightly beaten

For the grits, bring water and milk to a boil. Whisk in the grits and stir vigorously to remove all the lumps. Once it comes back to a boil, cover the saucepan and lower heat to a simmer. Stir occasionally to keep clumps from forming. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until water is absorbed and grits have thickened. Add in cheese by the handful, stirring constantly until cheese is melted. Taste for seasoning and add salt, if desired. Remove from heat but keep covered to stay warm.

Remove the casing from the chorizo and add it to a skillet. Cut the sausage into pieces and cook all the way through, about 4-5 minutes until the color has browned. Once the meat is browned, add in eggs and let sit for minute without stirring. Using a fork, scramble the eggs with the sausage until at desired doneness.

Place together on a plate and dig in, eating a bite of chorizo eggs with a bite of the cheesy grits.

Savory Sourdough Bread Pudding

My friend Charlotte gifted me with a loaf a sourdough bread her husband had made. My folks and I had some lovely sandwiches with it and decided the reminder would be perfect to form the base of my overnight casserole.

This is a great timesaver on Christmas morning, as you build it the night before and let it sit in the fridge overnight. The bonus is it is also one of those dishes where you can empty your fridge of leftovers – we had some sausage patties from a previous breakfast and some mushrooms we had sautéed for pizza but are using here instead to go with bread that was starting to go stale.

I like using smoked Gouda but Cheddar or any other good melting cheese would be delicious. We used sourdough bread but use what you have, knowing that thicker slices is best.

The bread softened beautifully and the casserole was so nice and creamy and smokey. Such a very good way to start a holiday or for brunch anytime of the year.

Sourdough Breakfast Casserole

1 pound sourdough bread, about thick 5 slices
½ pound breakfast sausage, about 4 to 5 patties
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
4 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 cup half and half (or cream)
8 ounces smoked Gouda, grated (about 2 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Toast the bread until golden brown. I run it through 3 light toast cycles to get it well dried out. Let cool, then tear into large bite-size pieces.

Brown the breakfast sausage. Remove from heat to a large bowl. In same pan, sauté the mushrooms until they’ve released their juices. Remove from heat.

Lightly butter a 9×13 baking dish.

In a large bowl, toss together bread, sausage and mushrooms. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, half and half, 1 1/2 cups cheese, salt and pepper.

Lightly butter a 9- x 13-inch baking dish. Turn bread and sausage mixture into pan, spreading it out evenly over the bottom. Pour custard into pan, pressing bread pieces down gently to help absorb the liquid. Cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

When you’re ready to bake the casserole, heat oven to 350 degrees. Scatter the remaining grated cheese over the top of the casserole. Transfer to oven and bake uncovered until casserole is golden brown and firm to the touch, 45 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Sourdough Blueberry Muffins

While Hurricane Sally was inching her way closer, I needed to bake something to get my mind off the storm. I decided to use some of the sourdough starter I brought with me and some of dad’s blueberries to make muffins.

I had originally done this recipe but my dad didn’t like the cornmeal in them so I went with a more traditional muffin. Using brown sugar deepens the flavor and I used a Mexican vanilla extract in this recipe as it has a cinnamon flavor that goes well with the blueberries. The cinnamon sugar on the top adds a nice crunch.

They may not be pretty but they are delicious.

My parent’s house took 16 inches of water and a foot of debris with the storm surge from Sally so I will be dealing with that for a while. As there is no power or water, I won’t be cooking unless it can be done on a propane grill or griddle at my brother-in-laws house.

Sourdough Blueberry Muffins

2 cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup sourdough starter
½ cup milk
1 large egg
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 – 2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
cinnamon sugar for dusting

Butter a muffin tin.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

In a second bowl, beat together the starter, milk, egg, melted butter and brown sugar. Stir the wet ingredients with the dry, just until mixed. Fold in the blueberries just until blended.

Fill the cups of the buttered muffin tin; sprinkle the tops of the muffins with cinnamon sugar.

Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the pan and letting cool completely.

I can’t believe Sally hit on the anniversary of Ivan. My folks had gotten 18 inches in that storm and had barely moved back in before I evacuated there for Katrina (and ended up living above their garage for more than a year).

Please keep all those in the paths of these storms in your hearts. Help if you can as we can’t forget Lake Charles and the aftermath of Hurricane Laura so many are facing as well as those other storms that are heading our way.

Thank you all for the thoughts and prayers for me and my family. We are healthy and safe. The house may be uninhabitable but we are okay and will survive.