Ultimate French Toast

Ultimate French Toast

One of the first things I ever learned to cook was french toast. It’s been one of those dishes that dotted my childhood with fond memories. It’s intrinsically linked to both my mom and my Grandmother Marr. A dish handed down from generation to generation, not so much for it’s uniqueness, but as a symbol of caring. It always said “I love you” in that beautiful unspoken way that food can convey.

Ever since I was a small child french toast was one of my favorites. Like most kids, my weekday breakfasts usually consisted of cereal or bagels, but with the weekend came the possibility of something a little more special. With great pomp my mother would pull the electric skillet from the cupboard and set it on the countertop. It was such an exciting sight to see because my brother and I knew something exceptional was shortly to follow.

Learning to cook with Mom

Learning to cook with Mom

My mother would grab some milk and eggs from the refrigerator, the loaf of sliced white bread, and a small bottle of vanilla extract. Then the magic would commence. A ritual of mixing, dipping, and frying that resulted in a crispy, creamy, syrup drenched delight. The same ritual that was acted out by my grandmother any time we would go visit her in Connecticut. A beautiful chain of “I love you’s” from mother to child, generation to generation.

I can still remember my mom showing me how to dip the bread into the milk and egg, allowing it to soak up just the right amount of liquid. Learning the perfect amount of browning and doneness on each side , and mastering the art of the perfect flip – that graceful fluid motion that contains equal amounts of confidence and and delicacy.

As I got older and had the opportunity to try french toast elsewhere, from diners to bed & breakfasts, I decided to make little tweaks to the french toast recipe of my youth. I experimented with different breads, added a few ingredients, and in the end found what I think is the ultimate french toast recipe!

French ToastIt only has a few more ingredients, but sometimes little changes can make a big impact. Instead of regular sliced white bread I buy a loaf of bread and cut it myself, allowing it to soak up even more of the liquid and make a dense, rich custard in the center of each piece. I added a little sugar to up the sweetness, so there’s less need to drench it in syrup. A hint of almond extract gives a more complex flavor to the custard and perfectly complements the vanilla. And finally a little spice – cinnamon and nutmeg add a warmth and depth to each bite.

I’ll always love the simple french toast recipe of my youth, but I also love taking something that is so dear to me and making it my own. I hope you’ll try this recipe and with it tell the ones you care most about, “I love you”.

Happy Eating!

Kate xoxo

 

French ToastUltimate French Toast

Ingredients

makes approximately 6-8 slices of french toast

  • French, Italian or Challah Bread, sliced, 3/4″ thick*
  • 2 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 C. milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 C. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  1. Put the oil in a large skillet on medium heat, making sure it evenly coats the whole pan.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk the eggs, then add the milk, sugar, vanilla and almond extracts and whisk until fully incorporated and the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Once the pan is heated, take the cinnamon and add a generous dash to the milk/egg mixture. Then a light dash of nutmeg. Swirl the spices then dip a slice of bread into the milk/egg mixture. Flip the slice of bread over, allowing it to soak up liquid on both sides.
  4. Place the slice in the pan and repeat, making sure to add more spices as necessary, until you fill the pan making sure not to overcrowd.
  5. After about 3-4 minutes, check the doneness on the first slice of bread. You’re looking for a nice golden brown. (see photo above)
  6. Once you see it, give the bread a flip and let it cook for another 3-4 minutes on the other side. As the bread cooks the center will begin to puff up. When you see that, check the underside for the same golden brown doneness, and remove from the pan to a plate.
  7. Once you remove it from the heat the center will begin to deflate and sink. Once it does the middle will be a nice dense custard texture. Repeat the process until all the bread is cooked, adding a little additional oil to the pan as you cook if it becomes too dry and the bread begins to stick. Serve with syrup and/or a dusting of powdered sugar.

*If you really want to really make this special, you can make your own French Bread using my recipe. Plus, the perfect side for this is bacon. Be sure to check out my post on how to make perfect bacon, every time, and with minimal mess – Makin’Bacon. Enjoy!

Chicken Paprikash

Chicken Paprikash

 

Although I have Hungarian lineage on both sides of my family, and I grew up enjoying dishes like Cabbage & Noodles, I somehow managed to get through four decades without ever having what is probably the most well-known dish from Hungary – Paprikash.

Who doesn’t remember the infamous scene with Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally: “Waiter, there is too much pepper on my Paprikash.” That was basically my only reference to this dish. As I imagine is the case for many.

Chicken PaprikashSo, I finally decided to right what would probably be considered a cultural faux pas and make Chicken Paprikash. I’m so glad I did. It’s delicious! Rich, creamy, hearty and the perfect dish as the weather gets colder. It’s not complicated, but it does take a little while to truly build up all the flavors, and it’s so worth the time.

Traditionally the chicken is served with dumplings, which I included in this recipe. But, you can also leave the chicken pieces whole and serve it with mashed potatoes or rice if you’re looking to cut down on some of the work. Any starchy side that you can spoon lots of delicious sauce over would be great.

However you choose to make it, just be sure you make it. You won’t regret it and you’ll wonder where this tasty dish has been all your life. I know I did.

Happy Eating!

Kate xoxo

 

Chicken Paprikash

Chicken PaprikashIngredients

  • Chicken, dark meat (8 drumsticks or 3 drumsticks & 3 thighs)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 C. sweet Hungarian paprika *
  • 1 C. chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C. sour cream
  • 1 Tbs. flour
  1. Thoroughly dry each piece of chicken and season well with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a large, heavy bottomed pan, over medium-high heat until hot. Add the butter to coat the pan, then add the chicken in a single layer, making sure not to crowed the pan. If you don’t have enough room, cook the chicken in two batches.
  3. Leave the chicken to thoroughly brown on one side (approximately 5-7 minutes), then turn and brown completely on the other side.
  4. Once browned, remove the chicken from the pan and set aside in a bowl.
  5. Turn the heat down to medium. Add the sliced onions to the pan and cover, allowing them to steam for about 10 minutes. Then, remove the lid stir the onions and allow them to sautè until golden brown.
  6. Add the paprika to the onions, mix thoroughly into the onions, stirring for 30 seconds, just until the paprika becomes fragrant. Be careful not to let the paprika cook too long and burn as it will become bitter.
  7. Add the chicken stock, salt, and return the chicken to the pan along with any accumulated juices in the bowl.
  8. Bring to a boil, then cover with the lid and lower the heat to a simmer. Allow to cook for about an hour, until the meat is falling off the bone.
  9. While the chicken is simmering, make the dumplings (see below).
  10. Once cooked, remove all the pieces of chicken from the pan to a clean bowl and allow to cool enough that it can be handled.
  11. While the chicken is cooling, whisk the flour into the sour cream until there are no longer any lumps.
  12. Before adding the sour cream to the pan, be sure to temper it by slowly adding a spoonful of the pan sauce to the sour cream and whisking thoroughly until each spoonful is incorporated and the temperature of the sour cream is warm.
  13. Once tempered, add the sour cream to the pan and mix until completely incorporated and the sauce begins to thicken. Do not allow to boil or else the sauce may split, keep the pan on a medium-low heat.
  14. When the chicken has cooled enough to handle remove all the meat from the bones and coarsely shred, returning the meat to the pan.
  15. Add the dumplings to the pan, thoroughly mixing all ingredients and allowing the dish to warm through before serving.

Chicken PaprikashDumplings

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 C. water
  • 3 C. flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil
  2. In a mixing bowl combine the eggs, water, flour and salt until all ingredients are well incorporated and form a soupy dough.
  3. Using a spoon, scrape a teaspoons worth of dough into the pot of boiling water. Cook for approximately 7 minutes, or until the dough rises and floats to the top. If you would like larger or smaller dumplings, simply adjust the amount of dough you scrape into the water. Dumplings will almost double in size as they boil.
  4. Remove the cooked dumplings from the water with a slotted spoon and reserve in a bowl. Repeat process until all dough has been cooked.

 

Paprika*Tip: The key to a truly flavorful and authentic Paprikash is of course in the paprika. There are lots of variations of paprika out there and it can be a little confusing knowing which one to use. Make sure you use a sweet paprika, not smoked or hot. Some stores carry authentic Hungarian paprika, like Pride of Szeged. If you can’t find it in your local store you can also find some, like this one, on Amazon. In a  pinch you can use regular paprika from your grocery store, but it won’t have the same depth of flavor as authentic Hungarian paprika.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Autumn is finally here! The urge to hunker down and cook, bake, and laze is strong this time of year, and this is the perfect soup to usher in the season.

Right now it’s all about apples and squash, so what better way to use great seasonal produce than by making this tasty dish. Even though this recipe doesn’t call for cream it still has a wonderfully smooth and creamy texture, minus the extra fat. It’s great as a first course, or even works well as a meal all on its own. Plus, it’s easily modified for vegetarians by omitting the bacon and using vegetable stock instead of chicken.

Happy Eating!

Kate xoxo

 

Butternut Squash & Apple Soup

Butternut Squash and Apple SoupIngredients

  • 6 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 celery ribs, sliced
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 lbs. potatoes
  • 1 large apple
  • 1 1/2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (3 1/2 to 4 cups)
  • 2 C. chicken stock or broth
  • 2-2 1/2 C water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • sour cream
  1. In a heavy stock pot sauté the bacon on medium heat until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain.
  2. Leave the remaining bacon fat in the pot to cook the carrot, onion, and celery, covered, on low heat for approximately 10-12 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened but not browned. If there is less than 2 Tbs of bacon fat add a little vegetable oil to the pot, making sure there’s just enough to coat the vegetables.
  3. While the vegetables cook, peel and coarsely chop the potatoes and apple, making sure to remove the core of the apple.
  4. Add the cinnamon and cook, uncovered, stirring, for one minute.
  5. Add the squash, potato, apple, stock, 2 C. water, salt and pepper to the pot. Simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender.
  6. Using a heatproof measuring cup, transfer small batches to a blender to puree the soup. (See Tip below*) Once each batch is well blended transfer to a new clean pot. Keep warm over medium low heat, stirring occasionally. If soup is a little thick, slowly add water until it reaches the desired consistency.
  7. Serve soup topped with sour cream and bacon.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup*Tip: When blending the soup, be sure to remove the stopper on the top of your blender. When you place the top on simply take a kitchen towel or pot holder and hold it in place. This will allow some of the steam to escape and prevent pressure from building and blowing the top off your blender while you’re running it. Also, make sure to start at a low speed and slowly increase it as you blend until it’s the desired consistency.

Book Review: Infuse: Oil, Spirit, Water

Infuse Oil Water SpiritInfuse: Oil, Spirit, Water is a beautiful book written by Eric Prum and Josh Williams, Brooklyn-based designers who originally met at the University of Virginia. It was while at school that the seed for this book was first planted. It all began with some Kentucky bourbon and fresh peaches put in a mason jar. A few weeks later the magic of infusions was clear, and a jar of summertime hooch has now grown into a thriving business.

The cornerstone of this business is a little gadget Prum & Williams have created called The Mason Tap. Frustrated by the difficulties that can come from pouring their infusions out of a wide-rimmed mason jar, this duo was inspired to design and create a spout that can attach to any mason jar, and makes pouring their infused concoctions a breeze – The Mason Tap.

Although my initial impression of this book was that it was more style over substance, like a big ad for the Mason Tap as well as their design firm, W&P Design, upon deeper inspection it’s clearly quite the opposite. There’s a lot of wonderful infusions in this book, as well as a number of tasty recipes that you can use the infusions in. They guide you through the basics of what infusions are and take you step by step through the process of making them. And, it’s awfully pretty to look at.

Infuse edit

Their design sensibility is apparent with the turn of every page. Stunning photography, beautifully styled and honoring the simplicity of a few simple ingredients that can combine to make a product that is even more delightful than the sum of its parts. There is also deep attention to the actual printing of the book, with a matte/rubberized cover that’s great for any errant spills as you’re working with liquids.

They refer to the alchemy of infusions, and anyone who has tried their hand at such understands the kind of magic they’re referring to. Time and patience are all that’s needed to make these delightful concoctions. I would definitely recommend this book, especially for folks who like to bring another dimension of flavor to their cooking. Plus, it’s a wonderful addition to the home bartender who wants to try their hand at creating custom cocktails. The secret of the new cocktail movement is often the custom infusions that professional mixologists make. This book will give anyone a good foundation for exploring these timeless infusions,inspire the reader to come up with their own infusions, and it would make a great gift for the foodie/cocktail-maven in your life!

Happy Eating!

Kate xoxo

Infuse

I received this book through the Blogging For Books program in exchange for this review. No other compensation was received, and all opinions are solely mine.

Orange Chocolate Bread Pudding with Orange Bourbon Sauce

Orange Chocolate Bread Pudding

 

Shortly after I turned twenty-two I packed up my car, left my childhood home in Virginia and headed north to Pennsylvania. I left everything familiar behind and carved out a new life for myself with next to no money and knowing next to no one. It was the scariest and most exhilarating time of my life. Thanks to my best-friend’s older sister and her husband I had a place to get my bearings for a few months before I made the final plunge and moved into a group house with two new friends I’d made through my adventures in community theater.

It was a time where I lived on a shoestring budget, bouncing from temp job to temp job until I finally settled into a wonderful position as a nanny to twin two-year-old boys. It was the early 90’s. The radio was filled with Tori Amos, Alanis Morisette, R.E.M. and Nirvana. I was still filled with the boldness of youth; that magical elixir of self-confidence mixed with fearlessness and the awareness that you are completely in control of your life for the first time. I still firmly believed my future was as a performer on the stage, and the Philly area was that much closer to New York City and The Great White Way.

So what does all of this have to do with bread pudding? Everything. My special fondness for bread pudding began in the new-found life of my youth in Pennsylvania.

Chester County Book Company

photo courtesy of Chester County Books

Being poor and having only a small base of friends, I found simple, cheap ways to spend my time. One of my favorites when flying solo was visiting an awesome book store, Chester County Book Company. The book selection was huge, with absolutely everything you could imagine, along with magazines for days including obscure titles that have likely disappeared long ago. This was life before Amazon, so bookstores were still king, and this one did everything right.

Inside the store was a small restaurant The Magnolia Grill. It. Was. Awesome! A number of the dishes on their menu had a New Orleans/Creole Cuisine inspiration. I quickly found my favorites and ordered the same thing every time I went. For less than $15 I would get a whole, scrumptious meal: A perfect Shrimp Po Boy, a generous helping of perfectly crispy battered shrimp on a buttery toasted baguette. Sublime. Followed by a caramel coffee and the most amazing Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce, firm yet creamy pudding without raisins (I’m decidedly anti-raisin, so big props), and a bourbon sauce with a hint of hooch and just the right amount of sweetness to make this rich dessert satisfy my sweet tooth without rotting my teeth. Absolute heaven.

It was sitting at my usual table in the back, savoring my scrummy dessert and reading Backstage magazine (with hopes of a life on the stage still coursing through my veins) that my lifelong love affair with bread pudding began. Sadly, the restaurant is gone, but thankfully the book store has survived, although in a much smaller space.

Bread PuddingWhile I still love that classic plain bread pudding with bourbon sauce, I’ve explored other iterations of that homey dessert, finally settling on what I think is the holy grail of bread puddings – Orange Chocolate Bread Pudding with Orange Bourbon Sauce. An elevated incarnation of one of the most comforting desserts you can find.

Creamy, custardy bread laced with fresh orange juice and zest, pockets of melted dark chocolate, and a crisp top that soaks up warm orange bourbon sauce. Absolute heaven! This recipe makes a hearty amount, so there’s plenty for a large gathering, or enough for days of tasty leftovers.

I hope this recipe transports you to some sweet memory of your own, like it does for me. I may have surrendered my dream of life on the stage and long ago left the Philly area to return to Virginia, but each time I have bread pudding I briefly travel back in time to that young woman sitting in the back of the bookstore with stars in her eyes. This is why food is such a magical touchstone, it conjures not only joy on your palate it also conjures memories in your heart.

Happy Eating!

Kate xoxo

 

Orange Chocolate Bread Pudding with Orange Bourbon Sauce

Bread PuddingIngredients

  • 1 large loaf of french bread, cubed
  • 3 C. milk
  • 5 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 C. sugar
  • 1 tbs. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 tbs. butter, melted
  • 2 oranges, juiced and zested
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs. Triple Sec or Grand Marnier
  • 7 oz. dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  1. Put the cubed bread in a large bowl, add the chopped chocolate and mix to incorporate throughout.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, orange juice & zest, salt and liqueur. Whisk until well mixed and a thick creamy consistency.
  3. Pour the milk mixture over the bread cubes. Press the cubes in to the liquid, making sure all the bread is able to soak in the liquid.
  4. Let the mixture sit for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  5. When ready to bake, pour the melted butter in a 9×13 baking dish, making sure to cover the bottom and all the sides of the dish.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Pour the bread mixture into the prepared dish and bake, uncovered, for approximately 45-50 minutes, until the center is firm but moist and the edges are lightly browned and begin to pull away from the dish. If it’s still a little loose in the middle after 50 minutes, simply return to the oven and continue to bake, checking every 5-10 minutes, until baked through.
  8. Set aside on a rack to cool.
  9. While cooling, make the Orange Bourbon Sauce.

Orange Bourbon Sauce

Ingredients

  • 3/4 C. butter
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbs. bourbon
  • 1 tbs. Triple Sec or Grand Marnier
  1. In a medium saucepan, over low heat, melt the butter.
  2. Add sugar.
  3. In a bowl, lightly whisk the the eggs. While whisking the eggs, add approximately 1 Tbs. of the melted butter to temper the eggs.
  4. While constantly whisking the butter and sugar, slowly add the eggs to the saucepan. Be sure not to add the eggs too quickly, or they might cook and curdle. This will ensure your sauce is nice and smooth.
  5. Once all the egg is incorporated in the butter and sugar, continue whisking until all the sugar has dissolved, and the mixture is smooth and thickened.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and add the bourbon and liqueur to the sauce and continue whisking until all ingredients are incorporated.
  7. Serve immediately over a portion of bread pudding, or let cool and quickly reheat when ready to serve.

**Tip: Store any unused sauce in an airtight container in the fridge to serve over leftover bread pudding. It can easily be reheated in the microwave.

 

Roasted Asparagus and Mushroom Lasagna

Asparagus and Mushroom Lasagna

 

I love asparagus. Now a days you can get most fruits and veg year round. But it used to be that the window for asparagus was a small one and you could only get it in spring/early summer. While it’s now readily available all the time, nothing compares to fresh seasonal asparagus. It’s so sweet and tender you can eat it raw, and is great as a nice shaved salad. This lasagna is a wonderful way to celebrate that scrumptious springtime vegetable.

Asparagus and Mushroom LasagnaWhat makes this lasagna even better is the addition of mushrooms. If you’ve been reading my other posts, you likely know I have a deep love for mushrooms. Nothing compares to that awesome addition of umami flavor to most dishes. And roasting the asparagus and mushrooms gives them both an even greater depth of flavor. I love roasting vegetables!

Another great aspect of this lasagne is that it doesn’t use a red sauce. Instead it has a yummy bechamel bringing all the flavors together. It’s only through making this that I learned not all lasagne is made with red sauce, and bechamel actually has it’s origins in Tuscany, not France. Who knew?

Finally, this lasagne is a great dish to make if you’re entertaining vegetarians. It’s a hearty meal that will make everyone happy – vegetarians and carnivores alike. Serve it with some warm garlic bread and you’ve got a fantastic meal. Mange!

Happy Eating!

Kate xoxo

 

Roasted Asparagus and Mushroom Lasagna

Asparagus and Mushroom LasagnaIngredients

  • 2 lbs asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 8 oz. package of mushrooms, sliced
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 6 Tbs. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 3 C. milk
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 12 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
  • 3/4 C. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 C. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  1. Cook lasagna noodles and drain. Put the noodles in a bowl and cover with aluminum foil to keep them warm.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  3. Place the mushrooms and asparagus in a shallow roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
  4. Roast in the oven for approximately 10 minutes until the vegetables become soft and lightly browned.
  5. Remove the vegetables from the oven and set aside to cool. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees.
  6. In a large saucepan melt the butter. Add the flour, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and garlic powder. Using a whisk, stir the ingredients until incorporated and becomes a smooth, thick paste.
  7. Slowly add the milk, making sure to incorporate the ingredients well, and whisk out any lumps. Bring the milk mixture to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of a thick gravy.
  8. Evenly coat a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Layer four of the noodles in the bottom of the dish. Next layer 1/3 of the vegetables, then 1/3 of the white sauce, and top with 1/3 of the Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Repeat the layers in the same order two more times.
  9. Cover the dish with aluminum foil, and bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted and begins to brown.
  10. Let the lasagna cool for approximately 15 minutes before serving.

 

Asparagus and Mushroom Lasagna

Curry Chicken Salad… and the Summer of Slack

Curry Chicken Salad

 

When most people hear the words “chicken salad” what immediately comes to mind is chicken slathered in mayo with a little salt & pepper, and maybe a bit of celery thrown in for crunch. While the simplicity of a basic chicken salad can be satisfying it can also be awfully boring.

The foundation for this chicken salad came about in the fall of 1997 in my friend Dara’s kitchen. Much of that previous summer was spent hanging out in her basement with a revolving door of friends: watching Comedy Central (and the genius first season of South Park), doing crafts and art projects, listening to Wilco, and engaging in activities that leave one prone to a serious case of “the munchies”. We fondly dubbed it the “Summer of Slack”. A last hurrah of our twenties before we all began to succumb to full-fledged adulthood and the responsibilities that go with it.

The need for snacks at any given hour were often satisfied by Dara’s boyfriend, Scott. He was a master in the kitchen. One evening our desire for something tasty led to him whipping up a batch of his Curry Chicken Salad.

Curry Chicken SaladIt has the two staples of any chicken salad: chicken and mayo. But from that point it gets so much more interesting. The warm spices of curry paired with the sweetness and subtle acidity of balsamic vinegar take this chicken salad to a whole new level. Another genius addition, that at first might sound a little strange, is red grapes. They perfectly echo the sweetness of the balsamic and give it a nice textural counterpoint to the chicken.

Curry Chicken SaladWhere this Curry Chicken Salad diverges from the original is my addition of another textural element – pecans. They add a nice crunch along with a nutty sweetness that compliments all the other flavors in this chicken salad.

Curry Chicken Salad is wonderfully flexible. It can be enjoyed in so many ways: served on a nice bed of crisp lettuce, as a sandwich, or even on its own. It’s never boring and is fancy enough to serve to guests, while easy enough to make any time for yourself.

Whenever I make this dish I’m reminded of the glorious Summer of Slack and all the dear friends I shared it with. I hope you make this dish and create some fond memories with friends of your own.

Happy Eating!

Kate xoxo

 

Curry Chicken Salad

Curry Chicken SaladIngredients

  • 2 pounds roasted chicken, shredded and diced
  • 1 C. mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 C. chopped pecans
  • 1 C. seedless red grapes, cut in half
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  1. Shred and dice the roasted chicken. Don’t cut them too small, as they will shred a little more as you mix the salad.
  2. Coarsely chop the pecans.
  3. Cut the grapes in half until you have a cups worth.
  4. Put the chicken in a large bowl with the mayo, balsamic vinegar, curry powder, and salt. Stir well to fully incorporate all the ingredients. The chicken should break down a bit and naturally shred into the wet ingredients.
  5. Add the chopped pecans and grapes and gently stir them in.
  6. Give the mixture a taste to make sure it’s seasoned to your liking. Adjust to taste.
  7. Also, make sure it isn’t too dry. If it is, slowly add a little more mayo, vinegar and curry powder, one at a time, tasting as you go to make sure the flavors are still balanced to your liking.
  8. Once the chicken salad has a nice consistency – wet enough that it all binds together, but dry enough that it isn’t gloopy – it’s ready.
  9. Serve on a nice bed of lettuce, or as a sandwich on a croissant or french bread.

 

Curry Chicken Salad

 

This Curry Chicken Salad is perfect on my French Bread. Check it out and give it a try, too!

Unsloppy Joes

Unsloppy Joes

 

Sloppy Joe’s are a tasty meal that the whole family usually enjoys. There’s just one problem. They’re so… sloppy. Take one bite and the meat oozes out, leaving you with half the filling on your plate and sauce all over your fingers.

The answer to this dilemma is Unsloppy Joe’s. Only four ingredients, a few simple steps, and you’ve got a yummy meal that doesn’t require a stack of napkins. Pus, it’s so simple that with a little supervision they’re a great way to get kids in the kitchen and learning how to cook.

What’s even better is that these are basically homemade hot pockets. You don’t have to stick with just sloppy joe’s, you can adapt this method to just about any filling you like: Ham and cheddar, beef and swiss, or even something a little fancier (and vegetarian) like brie and apple. You’re only limited by your own creativity!

Happy Eating!

Kate xoxo

 

Unsloppy JoesUnsloppy Joes

Ingredients

  • 1 can Grands Buttermilk Biscuits
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 can Manwich sloppy joe sauce
  • 1 C. shredded Mexican blend cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef and drain all excess fat. Add the can of sloppy joe sauce to the ground beef and mix thoroughly. Set aside.Unsloppy Joes
  3. On a flat surface, using a rolling pin. Roll out each biscuit into a flat disc of dough, approximately 5-6″ in diameter.
  4. Place each disc of dough on an ungreased baking sheet.Unsloppy Joes
  5. Once all the dough is rolled out, place two generous tablespoons of ground beef in the middle of each disc of dough. Leave approximately 1″ of dough uncovered around the outer edge of the dough disc.Unsloppy Joes
  6. Place a tablespoon of shredded cheese on top of the ground beef.Unsloppy Joes
  7. Fold the dough in half over the filling, and press the edges to seal well.
  8. Bake for 9-14 minutes, until golden brown. Serve.

 

Book Review: Food52 Genius Recipes

Genius Recipes Cover

 

Anyone who loves cooking likely loves cookbooks. Some wind up being huge disappointments. Others end up being the stalwarts of your cookbook collection – called upon time and again. When I read about Food52 Genius Recipes I had a feeling in my gut it would fall into the latter category, and so far I’m right.

In case you don’t already know about Food52, after you read this hit the link and check it out. It’s a great website filled with wonderful cooking tips, recipes culled from all over the web, and products that will help bring your own cooking to new levels of fabulousness. I have to confess I had never heard of it until I came across this book, but now it’s a new food website go-to for me. Being unfamiliar, I was obviously a little wary about how good this cookbook would be. Thankfully my gut served me well.

And how could I not have a good gut feeling about this book? It culls recipes from a roster of cooking superstars who have stellar reputations: Tom Colicchio, Nigella Lawson, Jim Lahey, Alice Waters, Eric Ripert, and even James Beard, the Godfather of modern cuisine. People who really know what they’re doing. And now armed with this book you can use their food knowledge and apply it to your own kitchen. Even the feel and look of it is amazing (yes, I’m one of those people for whom the feel of a book matters). As soon as I held it in my hand I was taken with the fact that it doesn’t have a dustjacket (who needs that in the kitchen), but rather a sturdy cover with a glossy finish making any little spills in the kitchen easy to wipe off. The paper is thick and and has a wonderful texture that lends itself to any notes you want to make as you try these recipes and add your own personal touch. And the photos are stunning – true food porn. They say you eat first with your eyes, and given the eye candy that fills this book you’ll want to eat everything in it.

The main premise of this cookbook is to introduce home cooks to the little unexpected tips and additions that professionals use to elevate their dishes. And even better, it encourages the reader to take these recipes and use them as a jumping off point and experiment to make these recipes their own. It wants to help open up the mind of the home cook and inspire them to think like a chef. Often times that means making things simpler, taking away all the bells and whistles and really learning to let the ingredients sing on their own.

I’ve already tried the Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion from Marchella Hazan. Seriously, those are the only ingredients: Diced tomatoes, onion, and butter (and salt to season). Plus, it only took about an hour to make a rich simple pasta sauce that was tasty as is, but has already got my mind thinking about how I can make it mine (a little chiffonade of fresh basil, anyone?) and make it even tastier. Super simple, yet something I’d never have thought of on my own. Genius.

Food52 Genius Recipes is a great all around cookbook. Its simple and clear instructions will make even a novice cook comfortable, and yet it’s got a lot of great little tips for the experienced home chef. Add this gem to your cookbook collection, you won’t be disappointed!

Happy Eating!

Kate xoxo

 

I received this book through the Blogging For Books program in exchange for this review . No other compensation was received, and all opinions are solely mine.

Panko Oven-Baked Chicken Drumsticks with Sauteed Spinach and Mushrooms

Panko Oven-Baked Chicken  Drumsticks

 

Here’s another great find from Pinterest. As I’ve said before I like to use chicken drumsticks, not only because they’re easy on the wallet, but because dark meat has so much more flavor than white. Plus, it stays moist a lot easier. Of course, it can get a little monotonous, so I look for different ways to prepare them to keep it from getting boring.

This recipe is originally from the food blog, The Two Bite Club – it’s super easy, and full of flavor. The panko helps the chicken get a nice crisp coating, and the mix of spices brings a big punch of flavor to these crispy little wonders. It will surely become a family favorite all year ’round!

Since you can’t just have chicken for dinner, I threw together this spinach and mushroom sauté  at the last minute – making the most of what I had in the fridge. It’s really easy, and a great way to add some healthy veg to your meal.

Give them both a try, either together or with some of your favorite dishes.

Happy eating!

Kate xoxo

 

Panko Oven-Baked Chicken DrumsticksPanko Oven-Baked Chicken Drumsticks

Ingredients

  • 6 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 C. panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. basil
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Put the butter in an oven-safe pan. Place the pan in the oven for the butter to melt, approximately 5 minutes.
  3. In a shallow dish, whisk together the egg and water.
  4. In a large ziploc bag, combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, basil and pepper. Shake well to fully incorporate all the ingredients.
  5. Wash and thoroughly dry your chicken drumsticks.
  6. Take each drumstick and dip it in the egg mixture, then place it in the bag of seasoned breadcrumbs. Make sure to fully coat each piece, pressing as much breadcrumb mixture to the drumstick as possible.
  7. Place each coated drumstick in the pan of melted butter.
  8. Drizzle the top of each drumstick with olive oil, lightly coating each one evenly.
  9. Place the pan in the oven for 30 minutes.
  10.  After 30 minutes, take the pan from the oven and flip each piece of chicken.
  11. Return to the oven to bake for another 15 minutes. Serve.

 

 

Spinach and Mushroom SauteSauteed Spinach and Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 1 package of mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 bag of pre-washed baby spinach
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil

 

  1. Melt butter in a skillet on medium heat.
  2. Add mushrooms to the pan, and sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt. Allow the mushrooms to sautee until all the moisture has evaporated and the mushrooms begin to brown, approximately 10-15 minutes.
  3. Once the mushrooms are browned, add the crushed garlic, olive oil and spinach to the pan.
  4. Allow to cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally to evenly cook, until the spinach has wilted but is still a bright green color. be careful not to overcook the spinach to the point where it becomes mush. Serve.

 

Hope you give them both a try. Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below! 🙂