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Bananas Foster French Toast

31 Aug

This recipe is amazing. It’s a recipe of multiple collaborations: Mr. Alton Brown, Ms. Leslie & myself. Dee-lish. Enough said.

Ingredients:

1 cup half-and-half  (I only had whipping cream and it turned out super yummy)

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 (1/2-inch) slices day-old or stale country loaf, brioche or challah bread

4 tablespoons butter


Ingredients for topping:

1 banana, sliced

1/2 cup rum (We used Bacardi Superior Puerto Rican Rum)

1 cup honey

1/4 cup whole walnuts

Dash of powdered sugar


Directions:

In medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, 2 tablespoons of honey, and salt. When ready to cook, pour custard mixture into a pie pan and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Dip bread into mixture, allow to soak for 30 seconds on each side, and then remove to a cooling rack that is sitting in a sheet pan, and allow to sit for 1 to 2 minutes.

Over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a 10-inch nonstick saute pan. Place 2 slices of bread at a time into the pan and cook until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and place on rack in oven for 5 minutes. Repeat with all 8 slices.

While the bread is in the oven, get your medium skillet out for the fun part!

On a low-medium setting, lightly cook the banana slices. Add the honey. Heat to a low simmer. Add the rum (yum!). Constantly stir your mixture ensuring nothing more than a slight simmer. Finally, add the walnuts. Stir to combine and keep warm until ready for topping.

Once your french toast is cooled on the racks, plate with toast, topping, and a dash of powdered sugar. YUM!

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Pasta with Eggplant and Pesto

13 Aug
This is the story of three foods that moved in together and created the most delicious relationship.
 
Friends: meet Pesto, Pasta, & Eggplant.
 
For the Pesto:
2 packed cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 c toasted pine nuts
1 clove garlic (I don’t believe you can ever use too much garlic; I put in two)
1/2 tsp salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/4 tsp black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
2/3 c EVOO, eyeball it
1/2 c grated Parmesan, plus extra for topping
 
Mix all in a food processor (or blender).  If you don’t have either, borrow one from a neighbor.  Store-bought pesto is “ehhh”; homemade pesto is da bomb.
 
 
For the Pasta:
Bring a large pot of salted (a palm full) water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta (I used what I had although I prefer penne–you can use whatev, though) and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and save about 1 cup of the pasta water.
Put the pasta into a large serving bowl and add 1/2 cup of the Parmesan. Toss until coated.
For the Eggplant:
In a large, nonstick skillet, heat the EVOO over med-high heat. Add the eggplant and season with salt and pepper.
Cook, stirring frequently, until the eggplant turns golden brown, about 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and cool slightly. Add the pesto and toss until the eggplant is coated.

 

Add the eggplant mixture to the serving bowl with the pasta and toss until all of the ingredients are coated. Thin out the sauce with a little pasta water (if needed). Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Top with extra parmesan…Weesie, are you down wit dat?
 
 
Holly’s Notes:
I prefer an all basil pesto, but when I got to my fridge, I realized I only had about 3/4 c of basil leaves. I threw in 1/2 c of baby spinach, and it still tasted great (arugula also works as a substitute).
To toast the pine nuts, arrange them in a single layer in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Toast for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. They’re done when golden-brown…and you can smell’em. Caution: these suckers burn easily, so watch’em.
Eggplants are a really “thirsty” vegetable, so I often have to add extra EVOO to the skillet as they’re cooking. 
***If you’re like my husband and dinner isn’t complete without meat, I just heated up some leftover chicken I had in the fridge and served it right on top.
  
  
*Recipe courtesy of Giada DeLaurentiis

Falafel

12 Aug

I apologize for posting 2 recipes in a row…but I couldn’t resist. This might be my favorite thing that I’ve made ever, and Matt’s too. It’s really quick to throw together and I almost always have the ingredients in my pantry. You should seriously make these, I promise you’ll enjoy.

Traditionally falafel is deep-fried, but this recipe cooks them up in a pan on the stove. And they are so delicious. Really, I don’t think you can go wrong with all the wonderful flavors, unless you happen to burn a few (which I did). This recipe comes from The New Moosewood Cookbook by Molly Katzen. It’s a really great cookbook – and all vegetarian!

Falafel
yields: about 24 balls

  • 4 cups cooked chickpeas (OK to use canned; two 15-oz. cans will provide the right amount)
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup finely minced onion or 6 scallions, minced
  • 1/4 cup (packed)  minced parsley
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • A few dashes of cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • Oil for frying

Rinse the chickpeas, and drain them well.

Combine all ingredients except flour in a food processor or a medium-sized bowl and process — or mash — until you have a uniform batter.

Add flour, and stir until thoroughly combined. You can cook the falafel right away, or store the batter in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for several days.

Heat a heavy skillet and add about 3 Tbsp. oil. When it is hot enough to sizzle a bread crumb on contact, drop tablespoonfuls of batter into the pan, flattening each slightly, like a small thick pancake. Sauté for about 10 minutes on each side, until golden and crisp. Add small amounts of extra oil to the pan as needed throughout the cooking.

Place the cooked falafel on a plate lined with paper towels and, if necessary, keep warm in a 300-degree oven until serving time.

This recipe is super simple and not too time consuming. Basically you just put everything in a bowl and mash it all together to form a batter. If you have the luxury of owning a food processor, it’s probably even easier. I just use a potato masher and it gets the job done.  I used canned chickpeas and scallions for my onions (they’re my favorite) and I used about 1/8 cup-ish dried parsley because I didn’t have fresh. I’m not sure if I had the heat up too high, but cooking the falafel for 10 minutes on one side doesn’t seem rightv- they burn. I’d say 3-5 minutes is more accurate. These cook quickly. The cook time is probably more of a personal preference. I like them more mushy than crispy, Matt liked the crispier ones.

I came out with 18 falafel balls, with two rounds in the pan. The overall cook time was probably about 15-20 minutes. We warmed up some pita bread and filled them with falafel, tomatoes, red onions and cucumbers and topped it with a few dollops of  tzatziki sauce.

(Note burnt falafel…but Matt still ate it.)

It was a delicious and healthy dinner. We even had a few falafel balls left over that Matt ate for lunch the next day. I really want to have people over and cook this for them! This is one of the few things I’ve made that I’m confident is delicious. (I’m very critical of my cooking). Enjoy!

Spinach Quiche

12 Aug

I’m enjoying reading everyone’s posts so far! I have a cooking blog and wanted to pull some of my favorites to share with everyone. This is a Spinach Quiche I made awhile back that turned out really good and was super easy. I’m sure it’d be equally delicious, or more so, with a pie crust.

Monday night for dinner, I decided I really wanted to make a quiche. I searched for an easy recipe that used few ingredients, I had a lot of eggs but not much else. I came across a recipe on allrecipes.com that was easily adaptable and met my standards.

Crustless Spinach Quiche
yields: 6 servings

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 3 cups shredded Muenster cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9 inch pie pan.

Bake in preheated oven until eggs have set, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft. Stir in spinach and continue cooking until excess moisture has evaporated.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, cheese, salt and pepper. Add spinach mixture and stir to blend. Scoop into prepared pie pan.

I didn’t have Muenster cheese (who does?) so I used what I had –  a little bit of Mozzarella (got 1 cup out of it) and a block of Colby cheese (got the other 2 cups from). The only other modification I made was adding diced tomatoes on top – I had a few lying around that were getting mushy. I did end up leaving it in the oven for longer than 30 minutes, it was closer to 45. It says to bake until “eggs have set”. I don’t really know what that means and it kind of scared me, so I assumed leaving it in a little longer wasn’t a bad thing. We ate more than half that night. Matt really loved it, I think he had 3 slices. I would have preferred less onions, the onion flavor seemed to dominate. A huge plus, it was delicious served cold the next day for breakfast. And this recipe is super adaptable, you can use almost any veggies, any cheese and add herbs or spices as you like. It’s a great base and one that I’ll most definitely be using again and again (I may add a crust next time). It’d be a perfect dish for brunch too!

Here’s the final product: