Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Overnight Blueberry French Toast

One of my favorite breakfast meals is French toast. My mom still makes some of the best French toast I've ever had. This one isn't your typical French toast recipe, but it's pretty tasty. What's nice about it is that it can be tailored to your tastes as far as what kind of berries you use and what not.

Overnight Blueberry French Toast:
12 slices day-old bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup fresh blueberries
10 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 cup white sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup water
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tbsp butter

1. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange half the bread cubes in the dish and top with cream cheese cubes. Sprinkle 1 cup blueberries over the cream cheese and top with remaining bread cubes.
2. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, and syrup. Pour over the bread cubes. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
3. Remove the bread cube mixture from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350°.
4. Cover, and bake 30 minutes. Uncover, and continue baking 25 to 30 minutes, until center is firm and surface is lightly browned.
5. In a medium saucepan, mix the sugar, cornstarch, and water. Bring to a boil. Stirring constantly, cook 3-4 minutes. Mix in the remaining 1 cup blueberries. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, until the blueberries burst. Stir in the butter, and pour over the baked French toast.

Note: I sprinkled cinnamon over the top of the French toast before refrigerating. I used 1/2 cup of maple syrup instead of a 1/3. And I whipped the cream cheese with a little bit of milk to make easier to spoon over the bread cubes.

Mini Ham and Cheese Buns

Being 8 months pregnant with a 3 year old running around and a husband who works night shift, I need the quickest meals I can find for dinner. This is one of my go to recipes when I'm in a time crunch. Plus, my three year old LOVES these sandwiches!

Mini Ham and Cheese Buns:
2 tbsp dried minced onions
1 tbsp prepared mustard
1 tsp poppy seeds
1 stick melted butter
1 dozen dinner rolls or 2 dozen party rolls
1/2 lb ham
1/2 lb thinly sliced Swiss Cheese

1. Preheat oven to 325°. In a small mixing bowl, mix onion, mustard, poppy seeds, and melted butter. 
2. Leaving the dinner rolls intact, slice them open so that you have one solid top and bottom. Place the bottom half on a baking sheet or in a 9x13 inch baking pan. The pan size will depend on choice of rolls. 
3. Line the bottom half of the rolls with cheese and ham. Return the top part of the rolls and drizzle the butter mixture evenly over top. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
4. Use a shark knife and separate the little sandwiches. Place on a pretty platter and serve immediately.

Note: I use the Hawaiian Sweet Rolls (the package of 12). They work GREAT for these sandwiches. I also don't use poppy seeds.

Also, these can be made ahead of time and refrigerated they'll just require at least 5 more minutes of heating time. You can also prepare these and freeze them. If you do freeze them, defrost them in the fridge over night and bake as directed. And they're delicious reheated in the microwave!

Chicken Milano

One of my favorite dishes at Macaroni Grill is their Chicken Milano. I get it almost every time we eat there (which, honestly, isn't enough haha). I was so happy to find a recipe that's similar to theirs. It's not exact, but it's close! If you like chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, and creamy sauce, this pasta is right up your alley!

Chicken Milano:
1 tbsp butter                                                2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced                                   2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped               8 oz. dry fettuccine pasta
1 cup chicken broth, divided                            Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup heavy cream
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

1. In a large saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and 3/4 cup of the chicken broth; increase to medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender. Add the cream and bring to a boil; stirring. Simmer over medium heat until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
2. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large skillet over medium heat, warm oil and saute chicken. Press on chicken occasionally with a slotted spatula. Cook for about 4 minutes per side or until the meat feels springy and is no longer pink inside. Transfer to a board; cover and keep warm. Discard the fat from the skillet.
3. In the same skillet, over medium heat, bring 1/4 cup chicken broth to a boil, stirring the pan juices. Reduce slightly and add to the cream sauce; stir in basil and adjust seasonings to taste.
4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add fettuccine and cook for 8-10 minutes or until al dente; drain. Transfer to a bowl and toss with 3-4 tbsp of the sauce.
5. Cut each chicken breast into 2-3 diagonal slices. Reheat the sauce gently if needed. Transfer the pasta to serving plates; top with chicken and coat with the cream sauce; serve.

Oven Fries with Lots of Chives

Being an Idaho native, potatoes are a very common dish in our house. However, I can't eat the same kind of potatoes over and over again, so I have a ton of recipes for different kinds of potatoes. One of our favorites (and easiest) side dishes that I have are these oven fries. They're not really fries, but more like home-style potatoes. Anyway, I hope you enjoy!

Oven Fries with lots of Chives:
4 whole large potatoes
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tbsp dry ranch dressing mix
2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Generously spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
2. Chop potatoes into bite sized pieces and place into a bowl. Spray potatoes with cooking spray. Add the salt, pepper, and ranch mix. Toss to evenly coat.
3. Place on baking sheet. Bake for 35 minutes, stirring once during cooking time.
4. Remove from oven and let cook slightly. Toss in the chives.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Homemade Pop-Tarts

Remember your college days when you woke up late, had to rush to your 8am class, and realized you were starving and had no time to make breakfast? What was the one thing that you'd always run to? POP-TARTS! C'mon, everyone likes those things. My favorite has always been the brown sugar and cinnamon ones. I still like them today! Anyway, I found an awesome recipe for homemade ones. They obviously take more time than the popular prepackaged ones, but they're very tasty!

Homemade Pop-Tarts:
1 premade pie crust
Butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg, beaten

Strawberry Filling:
¾ cup strawberry jam (or whatever flavor you’d like)

1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with silpat mat or wax paper.
2. Place the dough on a cutting board. Cut the dough into 4 squares. Roll the cut strips of dough out and make one more square.
3. Mix the cinnamon and sugar until well combined. Spread butter on one side of the square. Spoon a bit of the cinnamon mixture on top of the butter.
4. Fold the dough in half and gently seal the edges with your hands. Take a fork and crimp the edges of the pop-tart closed.
5. Slice a little vent onto the top of each pop-tart. Brush the tops with the egg wash. Sprinkle each one with some of the raw brown sugar and cinnamon mixture.
6. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a baking rack. Serve warm.

Febulous Wet Burritos

My husband is a huge fan of Mexican food. Seriously, if I make something Mexican for dinner, he'll do whatever I ask! :D This is one recipe that I've made a couple of times. It makes a ton of food, so I don't make it often. But I guarantee that if you make it, your family will love you forever! :D

Fabulous Wet Burritos:
1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 (4.5 oz) can diced green chili peppers
1 (16 oz) can refried beans
1 (15 oz) can chili without beans
1 (10.75 oz) can condensed tomato soup
1 (10 oz) can enchilada sauce
6 (12 in) flour tortillas, warmed

2 cups shredded lettuce
1 cup chopped tomatoes
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
1/2 cup chopped green onions

1. Crumble ground beef into skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir until evenly browned. Add onion, and cook until translucent. Drain grease and season with garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper. Stir in the green chilies and refried beans until well blended. Turn off heat, but keep warm.
2. In a saucepan, combine the chili without beans, tomato soup, and enchilada sauce. Mix well and cook over medium heat until heated trhough. Turn off heat and keep warm.
3. Place a warmed tortilla on a plate and spoon a generous 1/2 cup of the ground beef mixture onto the center. Top with lettuce and tomato to your liking. Roll up tortilla over the filling. Spoon a generous amount of the sauce over the top and sprinkle with cheese and green onions. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds or until cheese is melted. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

Low-Cal Fettuccine Alfredo

Okay who doesn't love a nice big bowl of fettuccine alfredo? I know I do. I love the stuff! But then I look at the calories and freak out. Sadly, it's hard to find a recipe that isn't made with tons of heavy cream and fat. But, after many attempts at making my own, I found a recipe that works just for what I need. It's one of the most flavorful versions of fettuccine alfredo that I've ever had and it's low in calories! Enjoy!

Low-Cal Fettuccine Alfredo:
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tsp all-purpose flour
1 cup low-fat (2%) milk
Kosher salt
2 tbsp Neufchetel or low-fat cream cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
12 oz fresh fettuccine
Freshly ground pepper

1. For the sauce: Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and lemon zest and cook until the garlic is slightly soft, about 1 minute. Add in the flour and cook, 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and 3/4 tsp salt and cook, whisking constantly, until just thickened, about 3 minutes. Add the cream cheese and Parmesan cheese; whisk until melted, about 1 minute. Stir in the chopped parsley.
2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccine and cook until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain pasta and return to the pot.
3. Add the sauce and 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water to the pasta and gently toss to combine, adding more cooking water as needed to loosen. Season with salt. Divide among bowls and top with Parmesan and pepper.

Note: I don't use fresh fettuccine (I don't have the time or energy to even think about making fresh pasta) and the lemon zest is a must!