Friday, September 16, 2011

Long overdue...Breakfast, lunch and dinner!

I've joined the blog hop at Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms! Come join the fun!

Man, it's HARD to find time to blog with a 3 year old and a 1 year old in the house! I, of course, still have time to cook (and HAVE to!) but blogging about it takes a back seat... So my apologies for the delay in getting these recipes posted for those who've been waiting!

A couple of weeks ago I did a luncheon for some wonderful teachers at my daughter's preschool and several of these recipes are from that luncheon by request of the teachers :) The first recipe I'm posting however is one I made a few days ago for breakfast after finding a great loaf of french bread in the day-old bin at the local grocery. It's an "overnight" french toast, so you mix it up the night before, let it soak in the fridge overnight and pop it in the oven in the morning. Super yummy and easy breakfast that's great for company! And the last recipe I'll post is one that we actually made last night...I was totally craving chocolate cake and didn't want the time, mess, etc. of making a "real" cake, so went with this one which is done in 5 minutes or less and tastes AWESOME! It's a molten chocolate cake and is terrific with whipped cream on top :) Apologies for the lack of pictures on most of these but like I said, time's a little tight with little ones in the house :)

Overnight French Toast Casserole

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
1 loaf French bread, sliced in 2" thick slices
8 eggs
1 cup milk (or half & half if you're feeling luxurious!)
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Mix brown sugar and butter together and spread into the bottom of a 9x13" pan. Layer bread slices on top (overlapping as necessary). Mix up eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt and pour over top of bread. Sprinkle with pecans and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. In the morning take the casserole out while the oven preheats to 350 (abt 15 mins or so). Then bake, uncovered for 30-35 min. Let cool slightly and serve with maple syrup or powdered sugar. YUM!

From the FBC Preschool Teacher's Luncheon:

Northern Spy Dressing
1 cup water
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tsp celery salt
1 tbsp celery seed
1/4 cup butter

In a medium-sized saucepan, whisk water and cornstarch together until smooth. Cook over medium-high heat, adding each of the remaining ingredients one at a time in the order listed, stirring well after each. Continue to cook until mixture becomes translucent and relatively smooth (with the exception of the seeds!). Allow to cool then transfer to the refrigerator where it will keep about six weeks. Do not freeze!

Foccacia Bread Croutons

This recipe is adapted from the King Arthur Bread Company...

For the foccacia:
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 tbsp Pizza Dough Flavor, optional
1 tbsp Italian seasoning blend, plus additional for topping
Sea or Kosher salt, for topping
For croutons:
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil

Combine ingredients in the workpan of your bread maker in the order recommended by the manufacturer. For my maker it's liquids first, then solids with yeast on top... Process on the "dough" setting. When complete, pour a small amount of olive oil into the bottom of a 9x13" pan and spread it around well. Punch down your dough, place into the pan, cover and let rise for about 60 minutes until puffy. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375°F. Gently poke indentations into the top of your bread with a knuckle or index finger. Sprinkle with sea salt or kosher salt and additional Italian seasoning. Bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn out onto a rack to cool overnight or, if not using for croutons, enjoy as is, warm or cool. If making croutons: The next day, cut foccacia into cubes, trimming crust as necessary. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 250°F. On a large sheet pan, pour a small amount of olive oil, spreading to cover pan. In a large bowl, toss bread cubes with additional olive oil to coat, then spread onto pan. Place pan into preheated oven and bake for 30-45 minutes, stirring croutons every 15 minutes until crispy.

My notes: I used the pizza dough flavor from King Arthur, which we use in our weekly homemade pizza night. I also used the "grinder" version of McCormick's Italian seasoning which is a coarser version than those "pre-ground" ones. I have also made these with just chopped fresh rosemary instead of the seasoning and it's fabulous that way as well. This is terrific on it's own, as a base for pizza or "flatbread" or as a bruschetta type dish. It also makes great "mini" pizzas if divided into individual muffin cups and topped with your favorite toppings!

Of the three cookies I served at the luncheon, two were "back of the box" recipes and one is a Martha Stewart adaptation I've posted before on my blog. I won't repost that one but will link to the previous post. The other two recipes are tried and true favorites and no matter how many times I try others, I always come back to these which I have copies of from my grandmothers' cookbooks...

Peanut Butter Cookies

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup Jif Creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
3 tbsp milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt

Heat oven to 375ºF. Combine sugars, peanut butter, butter, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add egg. Beat just until blended. Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture at low speed. Mix just until blended. Drop by rounded measuring tablespoonsful 2 inches apart onto a greased baking sheet (or one covered with parchment paper!). Flatten slightly in crisscross pattern with tines of fork, dipping the fork into granulated sugar between "impressions". Bake one baking sheet at a time at 375ºF for 7 to 8 minutes, or until set and just beginning to brown. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet. Remove cookies rack to cool completely. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

14 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups uncooked old-fashioned oatmeal
1 cup raisins (or Craisins)

Preheat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Add oats and raisins; mix well.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely. Store tightly covered.

And last but definitely not least... last night's dessert!

Microwave Dark Chocolate-Caramel Lava Cake

2 oz. dark chocolate (abt 60% cocoa content is good!)
4 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 squares caramel, unwrapped

In a microwaveable bowl, heat the chocolate and butter for 30 seconds then stir.  If not completely melted, microwave for 5-10 more seconds until just melted. Do not overcook or it will harden and turn grainy :( In a separate bowl, mix egg and sugar until lightened slightly in color. Add flour and stir to combine. Incorporate chocolate mixture into this and then pour into a well-greased very big coffee mug (like a latte mug) or a small greased microwaveable bowl. I used a small Pyrex bowl. Place the two caramels in the center of the dough, covering with a little bit of the batter.  Microwave on high for 1 minute, 30 seconds. Allow to cool in the microwave for at least a minute to set. Loosen from the bowl and then invert onto a serving plate. Serve with whipped cream...