French Toast

French toast close up

Inspiration for my french toast comes from a variation on several of Martha Stewart’s recipes. I never missed an episode of her Sunday afternoon cooking and home show that aired in the early 90’s. I video taped every episode and studied them well. I have always admired her drive and desire for perfection and I have learned much from her over the years.

A favorite Sunday morning treat, this recipe brings back so many fond memories of weekends spent with my son Bryant and his requests for his favorite “Martha Stewart French Toast”.

An egg bread such as Brioche or Challah makes the best french toast, but a hearty white bread will be fine.

French Toast

6 thick cut slices Brioche or Challah
5 large eggs
1 cup half and half
1 teaspoon grand mariner
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon orange zest
grape seed or vegetable oil
unsalted butter
confectioner’s sugar

In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, cinnamon, sugar, vanilla, grand mariner and orange zest.

Use a large heavy skillet or non stick electric griddle at medium low heat (300 on griddle). Add 1 tablespoon flavorless oil, such as grape seed oil and spread around pan. When oil is hot add 1 tablespoon butter, just before adding bread.

Dip bread into egg mixture, allow to soak for 30 seconds on each side, add to heated pan and cook until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.  If using a skillet, cook 2 pieces at a time, adding more butter as needed for each addition.

Dust with confectioner’s sugar. Serve with warm syrup.

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Watermelon Cups

Watermelon cups

 

We’re in the middle of one of my favorite seasons – watermelon season! In the 60’s and 70’s, my dad grew truckloads of this delectable, juicy, red fruit and sold them at the Farmer’s market for 50 cents each. Melons were plentiful growing up on the farm and we looked forward to ending a hot Alabama summer day with a big, dripping 4 inch slice. No forks please! Just hold a piece up to your face, take a big bite and let that sweet, sticky nectar run down your chin and neck. That’s the way it was done.

Today, I’m a bit more particular when it comes to serving my guests; forks are definitely required- at least at the dinner table.  I came across this idea years ago in a Southern Living magazine and finally just recently tried it out for a special brunch. It’s easy to do and you will really wow your guests with this beautiful presentation.  I’ve included the link which includes  step by step instructions on how to make the cups plus other ideas and recipes for watermelon.  Give it a try!

http://www.southernliving.com/food/entertaining/watermelon-cups-recipe

Healthy Homemade Granola

Homemade  Granola

I start every weekday morning with greek yogurt and fresh berries topped with this sweet, crunchy, healthy granola. It fills me up and helps me maintain a healthy weight. Full of wholesome ingredients, it’s quick and easy to make and so delicious. I make a fresh batch every weekend so I always have it on hand. Use different types of dried fruit and nuts to change it up.

Healthy Homemade Granola

Preheat oven to 300 degrees

2 cups old fashioned Quaker Oats
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
3 tablespoons agave nectar

Mix ingredients in a large bowl making sure oil and agave nectar are evenly distributed throughout the dry ingredients.

Spread out evenly on a large sheet pan. Bake for 25 minutes, low and slow, stirring half way through baking time.

Let cool on baking sheet, store in airtight container.

Broccoli Cheese Strata

Broccoli Strata closeup piece

This tasty casserole is wonderful for breakfast, brunch or dinner. Don’t like broccoli? Substitute with asparagus or spinach. Any way you prefer to have it, just have it!

Broccoli Cheese Strata adapted from Annie’s Eats

Makes 4-6 servings

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1- 1/2 cups broccoli florets
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 cups cubed French or Italian Bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (I used Vienna)
1 cup coarsely grated Gruyere
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
5 extra large eggs
1 -1/2 cups whole milk

Preheat oven to 350

Saute onion until translucent, add broccoli  and garlic and cook until broccoli is tender.

broccoli strata pan

Butter baking dish. Cover bottom of dish with bread. I used an 11x8x2 oval baker.

broccoli strata bread

Sprinkle with broccoli and onion mixture and more bread cubes. Top with cheeses.

broccoli strata 4

Whisk eggs and milk until blended, pour over the bread, broccoli and cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 8 hours or up to one day.

broccoli strata 5

Remove from refrigerator 1/2 hour before baking. Bake uncovered for 45-55 minutes until puffed, and golden. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

broccoli casserole

Blueberry Pancakes with Blueberry Compote

Blueberry Pancakes 2

When my son Bryant was growing up I always tried to make sure he had a hearty, hot breakfast to start his day. Among his favorites were waffles, french toast, and pancakes. Back in those days I often made pancakes using Bisquick. One weekend when Bry was about 8 years old, he asked me if we had any Bisquick. When I asked why, he replied, “so we can have pancakes.” I told him we didn’t have any, but that I could make them from “scratch”. The next time he wanted pancakes, he asked, “Mom, do we have any of that “scratch”? And that is what we affectionately  refer to as “the pancake story”. It’s one of my most special memories and I think about it every time that I make pancakes.

Bryant is now a grown young man with small children of his own, but whenever I get the chance, I pull out the “scratch” and make pancakes for him. I also have a french toast story, but I’ll save that for another day.

Blueberry Pancakes with Blueberry Compote

“Scratch” Recipe courtesy of Betty Crocker

You will need:
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk (see note)
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

Beat the egg with a hand mixer until fluffy; beat in remaining ingredients just until smooth. If batter is too thick, add more buttermilk. Note: I mix the batter in a large 3 cup Pyrex measuring cup. I add enough buttermilk to make 2/12 cups of batter.

Pour batter onto hot griddle. I use an electric griddle set at 300 degrees. For blueberry pancakes, drop several blueberries (fresh or frozen) onto the top of each pancake. Cook until puffed and dry around edges. Turn and cook other side until golden brown. Makes 12 four inch pancakes. Top with warm syrup and/or blueberry compote.

Blueberry pancakes 3

Blueberry Compote recipe courtesy of Ellie Krieger

You will need
2 cups frozen blueberries
3 tablespoons water
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Combine 1 cup of the blueberries, water, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add the rest of the blueberries and cook for 8 minutes more, stirring frequently. Serve warm.

blueberry pancakes 4