Monday, January 31, 2011

Teensy Toast

Weekend breakfast is something I really look forward to these days. We are up so early with Rex that there is always time to add another home cooked meal to the day when our work schedules aren't an obstacle. Most Saturday mornings we are blessed with a visit from my sister and 2/3 of her kids. After she drops her daughter off at dancing school they usually stop by while waiting for her class to finish. We made these one Saturday anticipating our usual Saturday Morning guests, but life got in the way and things didn't turn out as planned. My sister's daughter got sick at dancing and they had to turn around and get her before they made it to our house. Bummer too, because these tiny toasts were delish! I will definitely have to make them again for my nephews. Forrest won't complain either ;-)

French Toast Bites
Adapted from Sunset September 2004

Yield: MAKES: About 6 servings

  • 1 loaf (about 1 lb.) sturdy artisan-style bread
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup low-fat milk (1% or 2%)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • powdered sugar

1. Cut bread into 1-inch-thick slices. Trim crusts; cut bread into 1-inch cubes. In a bowl, beat eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon.

Add 2 cups bread cubes and mix to saturate.

2. Lightly butter a 10- to 12-inch nonstick frying pan. Place pan over medium-high heat. Lift bread cubes from mixture, shaking off excess liquid.

Add cubes to hot pan and cook (adjust heat if necessary),

turning as needed making sure to brown all six sides of each cube, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Keep warm.

3. Repeat to soak and cook remaining cubes. Discard any remaining egg mixture.

4. Sprinkle the French Toast Bites with powdered sugar and serve.

Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Memorable Meetings

Although my experiences rubbing elbows with celebrities are existent, they aren't necessarily anything to write home about. Let's see, there was that time I met all five members of N'Sync (which we all know they didn't amount to much - except JT who wasn't exactly JT at the time, so I didn't know the significance when it was happening), another time I waited on Weezy while working at a New Orleans restaurant, the time I flew on the same plane as Richard Simmons from LAX to New Orleans and two shared bar experiences with Eli Manning and Britney Spears on separate occasions. Considering the majority of the famed folks mentioned above are homegrown talent, I am sure I am not the only New Orleanian to have had chance encounters with them; therefore making the experience a little less noteworthy.

But Forrest's Grandma Gottung has a celebrity encounter that in my opinion rivals the best of them. After WWII she was traveling around Europe teaching. During a dining experience in Rome she met the one and only Alfredo di Lelio, the inventor of the infamous dish - Fettuccine Alfredo. Now THAT in my opinion is pretty epic, but then again anything to do with food in my opinion takes the cake (pardon the pun)! She often tells the story and I have had the pleasure of hearing it a few times while dining with her in Italian restaurants. In order to pay homage and as (what I think is) a precious nod to her brush with Foodie Fame, she always orders the dish whatever her mood.

Now I know for certian that this rendition of his dish would have ole' Alfredo rolling over in his grave, but I am an avid Cooking Light recipe doer so I had to give it a try.

Fettuccine Alfredo with Bacon
Adapted from Cooking Light January 2010

Total: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)

  • 1 (9-ounce) package refrigerated fresh fettuccine
  • 2 slices applewood-smoked bacon, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 2/3 cup (about 2 1/2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid.

2. While pasta cooks, cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 4 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally.

Remove bacon from pan using a slotted spoon, reserving drippings. Add garlic to drippings in pan; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Be very careful not to burn the garlic. Sprinkle flour over garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk; cook 2 minutes or until bubbly and slightly thick, stirring constantly. Be sure to whisk out all lumps from the flour.

Reduce heat to low. Gradually add cheese,

stirring until cheese melts. Stir in salt and reserved 1/4 cup cooking liquid.

Add hot pasta to pan; toss well to combine. Sprinkle with bacon, parsley, and pepper. Combine and Serve.

Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Savory Straws

I added these little pretties to my menu for Rex's Baptism at the last minute. I was looking for something that would add some height to the table and serving these in a highball glass was the perfect solution. They popped off the table in the ideal way as if they were screaming, "Please take me, I am delicious"!

Cheese Straws
Martha Stewart

  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 14 ounces frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, coarsely grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • Coarse salt ( I used Fleur De Sel)

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out pastry dough (use an all butter pastry for best results - I used Dufour a brand I found at Whole Foods)

to a 12-inch square. Use a pastry brush to dust off excess flour; brush some beaten egg over dough until well moistened. (Work the following steps quickly or the dough will become too warm and very hard to work with).

Sprinkle bottom half of dough with half the cheese and a pinch of salt.

Fold top half of dough over cheese-covered section, and press gently all over dough to seal. Roll out dough again to a 7 1/2-by-12 1/2-inch rectangle. Brush top of dough with more beaten egg. Sprinkle evenly with remaining cheese, and season with salt; press gently on topping to adhere it.

Using a pastry wheel or sharp knife, trim edges to form a neat 7-by-12-inch rectangle.

Cut dough into 1/4-by-12-inch strips. Twist into spirals, and place about 1/2 inch apart on baking sheets. To prevent straws from straightening out, gently press both ends onto sheets.

Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes (or up to overnight).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until straws are golden brown and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven; loosen straws from sheets with a thin spatula and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Click Here for Printable Recipe

Monday, January 3, 2011

Welcome 2011 !!

I must say, I am sad to see 2010 go. It was a year filled with so many exciting changes for Forrest and me and I know I will always cherish last year. In summary, we moved back to our hometown (where both of our families live), the best food city in the world:

Forrest got an awesome new job.

We built and moved into our first home and I got my dream kitchen (partial picture of said kitchen below):

And most importantly, we welcomed our most favorite foodie to the family:

As you can imagine, 2010 will be a hard year to top for my little family. But alas, 2010 is gone and 2011 is here to stay. We will focus on being thankful for our many blessings last year and are eager to see what the future holds. I have included a healthy take-out alternative for all of you who are looking to lighten up your fare in 2011. This was much quicker than ordering out and certainly easier on the waistline.

Kung Pao Chicken
Adapted from Cooking Light December 2010

4 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

  • 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces all fat removed
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon, peeled minced ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper (about 1 large pepper)
  • 1 cup snow peas, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts

1. Heat sesame oil in a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan;

sauté 3 minutes or until softened. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Being careful not to let it burn. Add chicken;

sauté 3 minutes or until chicken begins to brown.

2. Combine 3/4 cup water and the next 5 ingredients (through crushed red pepper) in a liquid measuring cup,

stirring with a whisk until sugar dissolves. Add water mixture to pan;

bring to a boil. Add bell pepper and snow peas to pan;

cook for 2 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender and sauce thickens. Sprinkle with nuts.

3. Serve over brown rice or whole wheat pasta.

Click Here for My Adapted Printable Recipe