Thursday, December 29, 2011

A few favorites...

Wishing everyone a very happy and healthy New Year! 

These are just some of my favorites over the years... 



Lemon Custard Cakes

Beth at Beth Fish Reads for her fun Weekend Cooking Party. Every weekend. It's open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share! Go on over and see some fun posts.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Simpler Times French Toast Casserole

Overnight French Toast casserole is a favorite in our house. Especially this one. Simpler Times Blueberry French Toast Casserole. Always a request from my son and his friends, especially when they were back on break from college. But planning ahead is not really my thing, or theirs, so we sort of skipped the overnight part and gave it abut an hour for the bread to soak up the custard. A little mash and stir helps that along and even with just half an hour to soak, it comes out perfect. This time I even went for the real bacon and not the pre-cooked. No comparison! A pretty perfect breakfast. Tomorrow it's back to the cheerio's!

Simpler Times French Toast
Source: David/ Lakeguy (GW Cooking Forum), original recipe by Chef & Innkeeper Cindy Belford, Simpler Times Inn
adapted by There's Always Thyme to Cook
Printable Recipe

1 whole Challah or Brioche cut in 1" cubes
5 eggs
1/2 cup sugar (original recipe called for 1 cup, I used 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups milk or half & half
3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar

Put bread cubes in large bowl. Whip eggs, sugar and nutmeg until light in color and thick. Add milk, stir and pour over bread. Cover and place in fridge overnight, if you can't make it ahead, let it soak for at least an hour and mix the bread well in the custard mixture.

In the morning, mix 1 cup blueberries and 1/2 cup pecans into the bread mix and put into a greased pan; sprinkle rest of the blueberries on top, then the pecans. In pan, melt butter and brown sugar until bubbly. Pour mixture over blueberries and pecans.

Bake at 325 degrees for one hour or until puffed. Serve hot with syrup.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Zuppa Toscana

 I had some leftover kale from a salad and I went looking for recipes. And I found a great one!

This was a delicious soup, in spite of the fact that I totally forgot to add the heavy cream at the end. I could blame the fact that it's holiday time and everything is so hectic. But I really can't because this happens to me even at the calmest of times. The crumbled sausage? That had to be sliced because partially thawed Italian chicken sausage doesn't crumble too easily if you forget to take it from the freezer in good time. I did manage to get the casing off but I guess if I was slicing it didn't matter anyway. Then I almost killed Grandma again with the pepper. One half teaspoon was probably more because I wasn't paying attention, it just might have been a tad much. Even the kids had more to drink with dinner! And the sausage was the spicy kind. But everyone loved this one. Even grandma, with a lot of water on the side. Definitely a keeper.

1 lb. Italian sausage (pork, chicken or turkey)
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 russett potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 cups cannelini beans
2 cups fresh kale, chopped or torn in small pieces (stems removed)
5 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk (use heavy cream if you want a richer tasting soup!)
Salt and pepper

Place a large stockpot on the stove over medium heat.  Remove the sausage from the casings and crumble into the pan. Cook until well browned.
Remove the cooked sausage from the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large plate lined with paper towels; set aside.  Add the chopped onion to the pan and sauté about 5-7 minutes, until soft and translucent.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes to the pan and cook for a minute more, just until fragrant. Add the wine to the pot and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits. Add the potatoes, beans, kale, and chicken broth to the pot. 

Return the sausage to the pot. Increase the heat to medium-high, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer on medium-low. Cover and let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender and cooked through. Stir in the milk or cream and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Beth at Beth Fish Reads for her fun Weekend Cooking Party. Every weekend. It's open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share! Go on over and see some fun posts.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cider Baked Apples

In a long, long list of favorite desserts, baked apple is way up there. Way, way up there. Practically tops! This recipe is simple and easy and I added the pecans because we love apples and pecans. You can add anything you like, the recipe is easy, simple and so good. And being the somewhat lazy cook that I am I didn't even bother to baste them, instead halfway through cooking I just turned the apples upside down and finished baking. Being not completely lazy, I served them right side up!

Cider Baked Apples with Pecans

2 1/2 cups apple cider
6 Fuji apples (or any firm cooking apple)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Pour the cider into a small skillet and bring it to a boil. On medium heat, continue to boil until the liquid reduces by a little less than half. It should be somewhat syrupy, but it won't be very thick. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't boil out.

While the cider is reducing, peel the skin from the top third of each apple. Use a melon baller or an apple corer to dig out the core. Place the apples in a baking dish. Stuff the pecans into the apple cavities. Sprinkle some pecans in the baking dish.

Stir the cinnamon, butter and brown sugar into the cider syrup. Pour it into the apple cavities, allowing it to overflow into the baking dish. Bake the apples for 40 to 50 minutes, until they are soft and tender, but not mush. Baste the apples occasionally in the cider syrup. Add more cider if it needs more liquid. The actual cooking time will depend on the size of the apples, larger apples may take longer.

Serve the apples warm with the syrup and pecans spooned over them. It's also nice topped with ice cream, whipped cream, yogurt or a cream anglaise.




Friday, December 16, 2011

Kale with Sauteed Apples and Squash

I decided to eat healthier. Well try anyway. But as I am finding out, healthy tastes good. Very good. I found this recipe for a salad with winter greens at Serious Eats. This was actually a great salad but I had to make a few changes. No pears in the house. Not a fan of the texture. So I added apples and squash instead. Added some bacon, too, for old time's sake. I can't eat all healthy, all the time. But a couple slices goes a long way for flavor. Next try, fish. Maybe. That will definitely be a hard sell to the picky family. Vegetables were easy.

Kale with Sauteed Apples and Butternut Squash

1/2 cup pine nuts
1 Fuji apple, halved and cored and diced
1 cup of butternut squash, diced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 handfuls of Kale, remove the  tough stems and cut or tear into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup walnut oil
3 slices cooked bacon, torn in small pieces
salt and freshly ground pepper
Grana Padano cheese, shaved (or Parmesan or Pecorino)

In a small, dry frying pan, toast the pine nuts over medium heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes. Watch because they burn easily. Remove from the heat and remove from pan, pour onto a plate to cool. Set aside.

Dice the apple and the butternut squash. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil to a skillet and heat on medium-high. Add the apples and squash, salt and pepper to taste, and saute until browned and softened. Add the bacon and saute for a minute or two with the apples and squash.

Combine the greens and pine nuts in a bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, honey, mustard, and shallot. Add the walnut oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat thoroughly. Top with the roasted apple, squash and Grana Padano and season with a few grinds of pepper. Serve immediately. 


Sending out a very big thank you Marigene from In The Middle of Nowhere and her sister Judy from Grace and Miss Mouse Soaps. They had a wonderful giveaway on Marigene's blog and I won a most generous gift of the most fantastic scented handcrafted soaps. You can find tons more at Judy's site, Grace and Miss Mouse Soaps, handcrafted in Vermont, take a peek!

Thanks again ladies, I am thrilled!



Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mexican Rice

Rice or Soup? The recipe said fluff with a fork, mine turned out more like swirl with a spoon. Even after cooking it for over forty minutes. So instead of fluffy it was kind of wet and soupy, but it still tasted great. I'd make it again for sure. Maybe use a little less liquid. Maybe not. We liked it soupy. Usually it's crunchy :)

Mexican Rice
adapted by There's Always Thyme to Cook
Printable Recipe

2 tablespoons oil
1/4 of a medium onion
1 1/2 cups brown rice
3 cloves minced garlic
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 can Rotel tomatoes with green chilies
4 tablespoons of chopped parsley (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
wedge of lime

In a medium sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion. Saute for about 2 minutes until softened. Add dry rice and cook with the onions for about 5 minutes or until rice becomes a golden brown color. Add the garlic to the rice and saute for another minute.

Slowly add the broth and tomatoes. Add the parsley if you're using it. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Let it simmer for 30 minutes or until all the liquid has absorbed. Squeeze some lime juice on, fluff with a fork and serve.

Beth at Beth Fish Reads for her fun Weekend Cooking Party. Every weekend. It's open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share! Go on over and see some fun posts.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Chicken Fajitas

And another fabulous fajita recipe, this one from Martha Stewart Living! This was excellent and pretty simple to make. Lot of great flavor, it's another keeper. This recipe by Susan from Savoring Time in the Kitchen that I usually make is a little different. Chicken Fajita's, the same, but different? But so good! 

Chicken Fajitas

For the mojo de ajo:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
juice from 3 small limes
1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

For the Fajitas:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 white onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices (about 1 cup)
1 red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, cut into slices
1 yellow bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, cut into slices
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless thin-sliced chicken breast cutlet, cut in strips
8 small flour tortillas, warmed

For Serving:
sour cream
shredded cheddar cheese
jalapeno rings

Make the mojo de ajo: Cook oil and garlic in a small saucepan over low heat until garlic is soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in lime juice, red-pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

Make the fajitas: Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the oil, and gently swirl to coat. Add onion and bell pepper, and season with a 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is browned in spots, and pepper has softened slightly, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken. Stir frequently, until chicken is browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Add the mojo de ajo, and stir to coat. Cook for another minute or so. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with warmed tortillas, guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream, jalapeno rings, and cheese.

Beth at Beth Fish Reads for her fun Weekend Cooking Party. Every weekend. It's open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share! Go on over and see some fun posts.


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