Friday, September 21, 2012

Challah French Toast

By now you probably know that breakfast is pretty much my favorite meal, except of course dessert. Since the Jewish holidays started this week, we had a challah in the house and what better way to use it up than with french toast. Normally Jason is in charge of breakfast but not french toast so this was my treat for us. This is perfect for weekend brunch! I just might have to make this again next week after another holiday dinner, if there is any challah left over. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Challah French Toast
Serves: 8 slices
Adapted from: Barefoot Contessa

6 extra-large eggs (I used egg beaters for 2)
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon good honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large loaf challah or brioche bread
Vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, lemon zest, vanilla, honey, and salt. Slice the challah in 3/4-inch thick slices. Soak as many slices in the egg mixture, turning once.

Heat griddle over medium heat. Add the soaked bread and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Place the cooked French toast on a sheet pan and keep it warm in the oven. Cook the remaining soaked bread slices, until it's all cooked. Serve hot with fresh fruit and enjoy!

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

New Year and Wedding Anniversary

Shana Tova (Happy New Year)! While some don't love the holidays, I am not one of those people. They are usually surrounded by family, food and good times. Since moving to Florida the family part is not always there. And this year Rosh Hashanah fell on our wedding anniversary! We decided to make the best of both occasions by having a holiday dinner the first night of the holiday and then going out to dinner for our anniversary. Another bonus is that we both took the day off for the holiday and were able to spend the whole day of our anniversary together. I doubt we would have taken it off otherwise. Needless to say this has been a great year and time has flown by. It seems like it was just yesterday that we were surrounded by our closest family and friends to celebrate our wedding. I guess it is pretty perfect to have our anniversary on the holiday which is the start to new a year for us as husband and wife and also a new year in the Jewish religion. 

Now onto the food! In my family we usually had what I called growing up greasy chicken for the holidays. doesn't sound healthy but there wasn't anything greasy about it, just juicy. This year, my dad sent me a recipe for a roasted chicken that doesn't require a roasting pan or standing it up in a pan either. All you needed was a skillet, and everyone has one of those! You put the skillet in the oven when you turn it on so that it will be nice and hot and help sear the thighs so that they cook in the same amount of time as the rest of the chicken.

So despite being hundreds of miles away, for that night we both were creating the same meal for our family, kind of cool when you think about it that way. Only difference was that I made our families favorite Sour Cream Coffee cake for dessert that left them wanting to be here to enjoy ;) Now this chicken was pretty easy to make and was the moistest one we have ever had.

Weeknight Roasted Chicken
Serves 4
Source: Cooks Illustrated

3/4 Tablespoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 1/2 - 4 lb whole chicken
1 Tablespoon olive oil

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position, place 12-inch oven-safe skillet on rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees. Combine salt and pepper in bowl. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Rub entire surface with oil. Sprinkle evenly all over with salt mixture and rub in mixture with hands to coat evenly. Tie legs together with twine and tuck wing tips behind back.

2. Transfer chicken, breast side up, to preheated skillet in oven. Roast chicken until breasts register 120 degrees and thighs register 135 degrees, 25 to 35 minutes. Turn off oven and leave chicken in oven until breasts register 160 degrees and thighs register 175 degrees, 25 to 35 minutes.

3. Transfer chicken to carving board and let rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes. While chicken rests, prepare pan sauce, if using. Carve chicken and serve.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Pasta with Homemade Marinara

Some how this past week just got away from me, despite it being shorter due to the holiday. I did however, get to watch a special on the Rachael Ray show that featured Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis making their family favorites. Giada showed a simple homemade marinara, which was the first thing she ever cooked her husband. It literally didn't require any fancy knife skills or too many ingredients. I guess you could say I was inspired to try my own hand at homemade sauce, especially since part of Jason's family is Italian after all. In about an hour the result was a delicious smelling house and tasty sauce simmering away. I really liked that this recipe gets the flavors from carrots, onion, garlic but you don't have to cut them up, just drop everything in and pull it out later once it has done its job.

Pasta with Homemade Marinara
Source: Giada de Laurentiis
Serves 4-6

(2) 32oz cans crushed tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 medium onion, peeled
2 celery stalks cut in half
2 carrots, peeled and cut in half
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 dried bay leaves
2 Tablespoons butter at room temperature
5 fresh basil leaves
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1lb pasta of your choice

In a large pot, add the crushed tomatoes, garlic, onion, celery, carrots, salt, pepper and bay leaves. Simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about an hour. Remove and discard the bay leaves, onion, celery, carrots and garlic. Turn off the heat, add the butter and fresh basil leaves. (The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. cool, then cover and refrigerate. Re-warm over medium heat before using)

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about8-10 minutes. Drain pasta and place in a large serving bowl. Toss with the Parmesan cheese and then the marinara sauce and serve.

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Monday, September 3, 2012

Quinoa with Black Beans

Happy Labor Day! This normally marks the end of summer and everyone heading back to school. However, in Florida it still remains hot and the kids have already been in school for a week! One thing that does remain the same, is that this holiday like most others, is synonymous with food and get togethers, so that is exactly what we did. While we didn't have an all American BBQ we did take advantage of the grill. Jason grilled up some juicy jerk chicken thighs and peppers and I made this bright and zesty quinoa with black beans and corn. I happen to really like cilantro and it brightens up this dish, especially with the lime juice. Next time I will definitely add in some diced bell peppers for some crunch and color. It is tasty warm but also just as good cold for lunch the next day.

Quinoa with Black Beans Slightly adapted from: Betty Crocker
Serves: 6-8

1  cup uncooked quinoa
1 can chicken or vegetable broth
1  cup black beans (from 15-oz can), drained, rinsed
1/2  cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
1/4  cup chopped fresh cilantro
3  medium green onions, chopped
1  Tablespoon fresh lime juice (1/2 lime)
1  clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4  teaspoon salt

Rinse quinoa thoroughly by placing in a fine-mesh strainer and holding under cold running water until water runs clear; drain well.

In 2-quart saucepan, heat broth to boiling. Add quinoa; reduce heat to low. Cover; simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

Fluff quinoa with fork. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cook uncovered about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly heated.

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