Thursday, December 30, 2010

Holiday Morning French Toast

Holiday Morning French Toast
family recipe

1 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Butter, Melted
3 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon (divided)
3 Tart Apples (Such as Granny Smith) Peeled, Cored, and Thinly Sliced
1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries or Raisins
1 Loaf Italian or French Bread Cut into 1-Inch Cubes (Or 9 Slices of Texas Bread)
6 Large Eggs
1 1/2 Cups Milk
1 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract

Combine brown sugar, butter, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a 13x9-inch baking dish. Add apples and cranberries, toss to coat well. Spread apple mixture evenly over bottom of baking dish. Arrange bread cubes on top. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, vanilla, and remaining 2 teaspoons cinnamon until well blended. Pour mixture over bread, soaking bread completely. Cover and refrigerate 4 to 24 hours. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375 for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Like I said, in the last post, I didn't do much cooking this Christmas. I didn't make this, but I ate it! My mom makes it every Christmas morning. And every time she makes it she forgets to make it far enough in advance to refrigerate it overnight (since that would be Christmas Eve, after all, so we'll forgive her) Side note: french toast is my favorite. So are dried cranberries. So is Christmas! Win-win-win!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Whipped Shortbread Cookies

Whipped Shortbread Cookies
family recipe

3 Cups Butter, Softened
1 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
4 1/2 Cups Flour
1 1/2 Cups Cornstarch

Beat butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add dry ingredients (no need to premix dry ingredients before incorporating) Roll into 1 inch balls and dip the balls in the sprinkles. Bake at 300 degrees for 20-22 minutes.

Friends, since I'm still a 'kid' in the eyes of those who provide the big holiday family feasts I didn't do much cooking or baking this Christmas. However, I did help my mom make these little treasures. There are only four ingredients in the cookie - how awesome is that?! As for the sprinkles, you'll want to use ones that are the big crystallized ones... the ones that look like raw sugar. I'm not sure on the official name for those. Use red and pink sprinkles for Valentine's Day. Or stuff with a macadamia nut and dip in chocolate. Or add a 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract. Whipped shortbread cookies are so versatile!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

BV Week: Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar

Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar
serves 6

  • 16 Ounces Fresh Strawberries, Hulled and Large Berries Cut in Half
  • 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup White Sugar
  • Pepper, to Taste
Place strawberries in a bowl. Drizzle vinegar over strawberries, and sprinkle with sugar. Cover, leave sit at room temperature at least one hour, but not for more than four hours. Just before serving, grind pepper over berries.
I saved dessert for last, also the best for last. This was my favorite recipe of the week by far, and it's such a bizarre combination! I served the berries over vanilla bean flavor ice cream from Haagen-Dazs. The saddest thing was, they weren't as great as leftovers :(

Friday, December 10, 2010

BV Week: Balsamic Viniagrette

Balsamic Vinaigrette
adapted from

1 Tablespoon Dried Thyme
1 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
3/4 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Mix all ingredients together in a medium glass bowl. Pour vinaigrette into a glass bottle using a funnel if necessary. Store at room temperature.

I love making salad dressings... I feel so domestic! Balsamic vinaigrette pairs well with spring mix with a creamy cheese.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

BV Week: Roasted Potato Wedges

Roasted Potato Wedges
adapted from

2 Russet Potatoes (or Other Potatoes)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper, to Taste
1 Tablespoon Dried Rosemary

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wash the potatoes, then cut into wedges. Toss the wedges with oil, vinegar and salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, stir and add rosemary, then roast for an additional 20 minutes.

These potatoes were spectacular. I drizzled a little extra BV just before serving for a little added kick. Potato heaven. Period. Served with tuna burger and a spring mix salad. 2 potatoes will make about 4 servings.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

BV Week: Chicken and Peppers with Balsamic Vinegar

Chicken and Peppers with Balsamic Vinegar

1/4 Cup Olive Oil, Divided
1 Pound Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut into Strips
Salt and Pepper, to Taste
1 Each of Green, Red, and Yellow Bell Peppers, Thinly Slice
1 Medium Onion, Thinly Sliced
1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder or 4 Garlic Cloves, Minced
1 Tablespoon Dried Basil
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar, Divided

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place chicken in skillet, season with salt and pepper, and brown on both sides. Add peppers, onion, garlic, basil, the rest of the olive oil and 2 tablespoons vinegar. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. Stir in remaining balsamic vinegar just before serving.

Serve over rice with soy sauce. Yum!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

BV Week: Roasted Balsamic Cauliflower

Roasted Balsamic Cauliflower
makes 5 servings
adapted from

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Head of Cauliflower, Chopped Into Bite-Sized Pieces

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Stir the olive oil, vinegar, salt and garlic powder in a bowl. Add the cauliflower and toss to coat. Spread the mixture on the lined baking sheet. Stirring occasionally, bake for 20 minutes or until tender.

This was a very simple side dish that I served with Hamburger Helper. I substituted garlic powder, for minced fresh garlic because I thought the garlic might burn. The flavor of the cauliflower was a bit on the milder side. Next time I make this I'd add a little bit more vinegar and maybe a tablespoon of a seasoning blend. If you want to get really fancy, some fresh chopped herbs would look gorgeous on top!

Bagel Thins with Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese

Ladies and Gentlemen, I interrupt your regularly scheduled balsamic vinegar week to bring you this important announcement: Bagel Thins with Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese.

At first, this looks like an ordinary bagel....

But it's actually thin! Thin bagels are much healthier for you than regular bagels. Only 110 calories and 25 carbs per bagel!

And then there's this cream cheese.... I think I already told you that I love cream cheese. Cream cheese and I have a love that some people just don't understand. Pumpkin flavor can be a hit or miss with me, but this was definitely a hit. A bomb. It blew up my world!

And together bagel thins and pumpkin spice cream cheese became the best snack I've ever had!

And now, back you your regularly scheduled balsamic vinegar week.

Monday, December 6, 2010

BV Week: Italian Olive Oil Balsamic Bread Dip

Italian Oil Balsamic Bread Dip
serves 4

3 Large Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
5 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/2 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1 Teaspoon Fresh Rosemary, Chopped
1 Pinch Salt and Pepper
French Bread, Sliced, For Dipping

Place the garlic, vinegar, olive oil, red pepper flakes, rosemary, and salt and pepper in a shallow bowl in that order. To serve spoon a small amount on bread.

This bread dip is very similar to Johnny Carino's bread dip. It's a flavorful, easy, sophisticated appetizer! I did both toasted and untoasted
bread and I concluded that
I prefer untoasted because it
soaks up all of the wonderful juice!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Balsamic Vinegar Week!

New Theme Week: Balsamic Vinegar. I've had a bottle sitting in my cabinet since I made Honey Balsamic Bean Salad, so I thought I'd try some new recipes to use it up. I'm making some awesome dishes this week that include ingredients such as fresh rosemary, and strawberries! Get excited!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes
followed down to the letter from
4 Whole Medium Sweet Potatoes
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Milk
2 Eggs
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Cup Pecans (Measured, Than Chopped)
1/2 Cup Flour
3/4 Stick Butter, softened
Wash the potatoes and pat dry. Pierce the potatoes with a fork and wrap in aluminum foil. Bake in a 375 degree oven until fork tender, 45 minutes or longer, depending on the size of the potatoes. When they are finished cooking, let them cool for a little bit, then slice them open and scrape out the flesh into a large bowl. Add the regular sugar, milk, eggs, vanilla extract and salt. With a potato masher, mash them up so the mix is still a little chunky, not too smooth. In a separate bowl, add brown sugar, pecans, flour, and butter and mix together with a pastry blender until thoroughly combined. Spread the potato mixture into a baking dish and top with the pecan mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

This recipe I had to fight for. My mom wasn't happy about the idea of a second sweet potato dish for Thanksgiving or about the fact that this can basically be classified as a dessert. My potatoes took way longer than the recommended time before they became tender, then they leaked all over the oven. Then I had to stay up really late baking it because of my bad time management. But I have to tell you, it was all worth it :)

My mother wanted to share that at Thanksgiving we had a ratio of 1 pie per 2 guests.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Shrimp and Pasta Primavera

Shrimp and Pasta Primavera
from my sister, who adapted it from a McCormick Recipe Inspirations package

1 1/2 tsp. Dill
1 tsp. Minced Garlic
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
1/4 tsp. Thyme leaves
8 oz. Linguine
1 Pound Large Shrimp Peeled, Deveined, and Precooked ( I used 100-150 size shrimp, only because it was on sale!)
4 1/2 c. assorted veggies (Green Pepper, Yellow Pepper, Red Pepper, Broccolli, Onion, etc.)
1 cup heavy cream (or half-and-half)
3/4 cup butter (that's one stick and a half of another stick)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
Cook pasta according to package directions. Saute veggies in a separate pan with spices and a little bit of olive oil. Add shrimp to veggies. When pasta is cooked and drained, add pasta, veggies and shrimp back to the pasta pot and set aside. In the pan that the veggies were in, add the heavy cream, butter, Parmesan and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, whisking frequently, for about 5 minutes until sauce reduces. Mix sauce with the pasta and serve with additional Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

I love pasta, it's so low-maintenance, just like me. The original recipe calls for the veggies and shrimp to be boiled in the pasta, which isn't the best option here... my sis suggests sauteing them instead. However, my significant other thought that this made the pasta a bit oily, but still thought it was all-around awesome. You can decide what's more important here... :)