French Toast for Valentine’s Day Breakfast

French Toast for Valentine’s Day Breakfast

Contrary to it’s name French Toast did not originate in France.  In fact it originated long before France was even a country.

French Toast is basically made with stale bread dipped in an egg and milk mixture then fried up for a tasty meal.  Being that bread, eggs, and milk have been staples since they started to prepare bread in some form it makes sense that it’s been around for centuries.  And of course back in the day people weren’t wasteful so turning stale bread into a meal using basic ingredients that were readily available makes sense too.

The first mention of a similar dish dates back to a cookbook attributed to Apicius back in 4th. Century Rome.  It was then called Pan Dulcis, or sweet bread, and made pretty much how we make it today.  The dish spread throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, specially the practice of using stale bread.  In France it was known then as it is now as Pain Perdu which literally means Lost Bread.  It is known by this name in Belgium, New Orleans, and other places where the French had some sort of presence.  We call it French Toast for the similar reason we call fried strips of potatoes French Fries; simply because it was popularized in America by French immigrants.

french toast

French Toast has become a staple on diner and coffee shop menus.  In fact it is one of my favorite breakfast foods mainly because not only is it easy to make and very tasty, I almost always have all the ingredients in my kitchen!

Now there are many fancy variations of this humble dish like the Crème Brûlée French Toast I make on Christmas mornings. Now that requires a bit more fussing.  But the basic French Toast recipe is so easy that you can make it even on weekday mornings, or at the very least on weekends.

This year Valentine’s Day falls on a weekday so I know cooking breakfast is pretty much not on the top of your priority list.  But wouldn’t it be super sweet to wake up just 15 minutes earlier this Valentine’s Day and surprise your sweetheart with a stack of French Toast?

Garnished with fresh fruit, powdered sugar, or whipped cream can dress up this humble dish and make it look like you’ve been up for hours preparing it!  So go ahead, wake up your Valentine with the cinnamony aroma of fresh made French Toast!  The kids’ will love them too!  Here’s my recipe!

Ingredients:

3 Large Eggs

1/2 Cup Milk

1/4 Cup Sugar

1 Tsp Cinnamon

1 Tsp Vanilla

6-8 Pieces Bread – any type will do, you can use day old or fresh, whatever you have on hand.

Butter

Syrup

Garnishes like fresh fruit, powdered sugar, whipped cream, etc.

Directions:

Beat eggs in a shallow bowl.

Add milk and sugar and stir well.

Stir in cinnamon and vanilla.

Melt butter in a frying pan.

Dip both sides of each piece of bread in egg mixture.

Place bread in frying pan and cook until both sides turn golden brown.

Place French Toast on serving dish and garnish any way you want.

You can place butter, syrup, and garnishes on the table so everyone can serve themselves.

 

 

 

 

french toast
French Toast
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french toast
French Toast
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Beat eggs in a shallow bowl. .
  2. Add milk and sugar and stir well.
  3. Stir in cinnamon and vanilla.
  4. Melt butter in a frying pan.
  5. Dip both sides of each piece of bread in egg mixture.
  6. Place bread in frying pan and cook until both sides turn golden brown.
  7. Place French Toast on serving dish and garnish any way you want. You can place butter, syrup, and garnishes on the table so everyone can serve themselves
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Sweet Potato Pie – Old Fashioned Comfort Food

Every year at Thanksgsweet potato pieiving I like to try something new to add to our Thanksgiving dinner menu.  If we like it then it becomes a permanent addition to our traditional meal.

This year my grandson Dion and I decided to try our had at a Southern Thanksgiving meal staple, Sweet Potato Pie.  I’ve never actually had Sweet Potato Pie, but Dion loves it.  He says it’s his favorite pie, specially the way his grandmother from Atlanta makes it.

Sweet Potato Pie is a Southern specialty that can be served instead of or beside the traditional Pumpkin Pie which graces just about everyone’s Thanksgiving dessert table.

So we searched online for a Sweet Potato Pie recipe; we found hundreds!  Each one touting that it was the best of course.  Well we experimented with a couple of different recipes and relied on Dion’s recollections of watching his Southern grandma make her pies.  In the end by tweaking and patching several recipes together we ended up with our own version which turned out quite nicely if I do say so myself.

We’ll share our version of Sweet Potato Pie below, but before we do here are a few things we learned along the way.  It might help you out and save you from making the same mistakes we made.

  1.  Use fresh yams!  Not canned yams preserved in sweet syrup!  Don’t get me started on this, just ask yourself, would your granny use canned yams?  I doubt it!
  2. Use Large RED Yams.  Not white yams, or purple yams, or Okinawan sweet potato.  Just plain old Red Yams!  And before you ask, yes there are many varieties of yams and sweet potatoes in the markets.  So don’t get fancy, keep it simple, RED Yams.
  3. Bake your yams DO NOT boil them!  This saves you from peeling and chopping raw yams.  BTW have you ever tried peeling and chopping raw yams or sweet potatoes?  No?  Well let me tell you peeling and chopping wood might just be easier!  Most importantly baked yams make a better pie filling, it’s not mushy or watery like boiled yams can be.  And you can bake yams for your Sweet Potato Pie up to a week before you actually make your pie.  Still not convinced or it sounds too tedious?  Remember even though it takes an hour to bake the yams it’s actually a hands off hour so you can do something else like making applesauce, doing laundry, or relaxing in the tub.
  4. Baking yams – Place 3 large yams (you wash them first of course) on a parchment covered baking sheet and pop them in a 375° oven.  Bake for 1 hour then remove from oven.  If you are using it to make Sweet Potato Pie right away peel off the skin and mash the yams to make 2 cups of mashed yams then follow the rest of the recipe to make the pie.  If you baked the yams in advance you can either mash it then store the mashed yams in the fridge in an airtight container or place the whole unpeeled yams in a ziplock and refrigerate until you’re ready to mash them for your Sweet Potato Pie.
  5. Just like Pumpkin and pecan pies, a Sweet Potato Pie is considered a custard pie; hence it must have some form of milk or cream.  There are recipes out there that call for milk, cream, or half-and-half; but since it’s a truly Southern specialty you should use canned evaporated milk.  That’s what they used in the Southern states.  Trust me on this you’ll end up with a creamier and smoother Sweet Potato Pie when you use canned evaporated milk.
  6. When you bake your pie pay close attention to the timer.  Test pie before removing from oven.  First nudge the pie – the center of the pie should be slightly softer than the rest of the pie so that it jiggles a bit when nudged.  Then insert a knife or a toothpick at the center – it should come out clean but moist.
  7. Let baked pie stand for about 30 minutes before cutting it.  This will firm it up so sliced don’t fall apart.  Better yet refrigerate the pie overnight then remove from fridge about 30 minutes before serving so it warms up to room temperature.  I like my custard pies cool I feel it brings out the sweetness.

Having said that here’s our recipe:

Ingredients:

2 Large Red Yams – Baked & Mashed to yield 3 cups (see tips for baking instructions)

1  Cup butter – softened

4  Cups Sugar

1 Can Evaporated Milk 12oz.

1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

6  eggs – beaten

1 1/2 Tsp ground cinnamon

2 Unbaked deep dish pie shells – homemade or frozen

Proceedure:

Mix together first 4 ingredients until well blended.

Stir in Vanilla, Eggs, and Cinnamon.

Pour filling into unbaked pie shells.

Bake in a 350° oven for 1 hour or until filling is set and/or tester comes out clean but moist.

Let stand at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Garnish and serve with whipped cream if desired.

 

Sweet Potato Pie
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Sweet Potato Pie
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Mix together first 4 ingredients until well blended.
  2. Stir in Vanilla, Eggs, and Cinnamon.
  3. Pour filling into unbaked pie shells.
  4. Bake in a 350° oven for 1 hour or until filling is set and/or tester comes out clean but moist.
  5. Let stand at least 30 minutes before slicing.
  6. Garnish and serve with whipped cream if desired.
Recipe Notes

Baking yams - Place 3 large yams (you wash them first of course) on a parchment covered baking sheet and pop them in a 375° oven.  Bake for 1 hour then remove from oven.  If you are using it to make Sweet Potato Pie right away peel off the skin and mash the yams to make 2 cups of mashed yams then follow the rest of the recipe to make the pie.  If you baked the yams in advance you can either mash it then store the mashed yams in the fridge in an airtight container or place the whole unpeeled yams in a ziplock and refrigerate until you're ready to mash them for your Sweet Potato Pie.

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Mushroom & Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts In Creamy Sauce

Mushroom & Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts In Creamy Sauce

stuffed chicken breastsAre you searching for that perfect dish to impress your guests with this summer?  I know you want something that looks impressive but is fairly simple to make.  You just want them to think you spent hours slaving away  in the kitchen; but you really just want to pop something in the oven while you snuggle up to a good book.  Well I’ve go the perfect dish for you!  °

Well perhaps super easy is a bit of a stretch.  You do have to put some effort into making stuffed chicken breasts, but not a whole lot, really I mean it.  You probably have most of the ingredients in your kitchen already.  With just a little bit of prep time (before popping everything in the oven) and a few minutes to make the sauce you will have time to sit down and read a book or take a short nap while it’s cooking.

You can serve this dish with a side of pasta for a very satisfying meal.  Add a tossed salad and you’ve got a great meal to serve to friends and family!  Seriously your main ingredients are garlic, mushrooms, cheese, and chicken what’s not to love?

Need more chicken recipes?  Try my Chicken Souvlaki Skewers it’s amazing!

 

Mushroom & Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Creamy Sauce
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Mushroom & Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Creamy Sauce
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Ingredients
Stuffed Chicken Breast
Creamy Sauce
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degree F
  2. Melt Butter in oven safe skillet
  3. Add garlic and saute about a minute. Add sliced mushrooms, parsley, salt and pepper. Saute until mushrooms are soft.
  4. Set mushrooms aside and allow to cool while you prep chicken breasts
  5. Wash breasts and pat dry with paper towel
  6. Rub onion powder, salt, and pepper on each breast
  7. Horizontally slice each breast at its thickest part. Do not slice through. Leave it attached to form a pocket.
  8. Place 2 slices of mozzarella cheese in each pocket
  9. Fill each breast with the sauted mushrooms and seal each breast with a couple of toothpicks.
  10. Remove any extra mushrooms from the pan. Leave any juices in the pan.
  11. Heat this pan and the juices and add the stuffed chicken breasts.
  12. Sear both sides of the breasts until they are golden brown.
  13. Cover pan and place in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through
  14. Remove from oven and place chicken breasts on a serving dish to keep warm while you make the sauce
Creamy Sauce
  1. Heat pan with chicken juices on stove
  2. Saute the garlic until fragrant
  3. Add Half & Half
  4. Bring to a simmer and add grated parmesan cheese and any remaining mushrooms
  5. Simmer until cheese has melted
  6. Slowly stir in dissolved corn starch to thicken
  7. Salt and pepper to taste
  8. Add parsley
  9. Either add chicken back into this pan or pour sauce over chicken to serve
  10. Serve with a side of your choice of pasta
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The Best Chicken Marsala Recipe

The Best Chicken Marsala Recipe

Chicken Marsala

One of my favorite dishes is Chicken Marsala.  I’ve tried many different recipes in my quest for the perfect one; tweaking each one until it was just right.

Here is the recipe I use and my family loves it.  The sauce in this version is thicker and creamier than other versions due to the heavy cream and corn starch.  If you want a thinner sauce please read the notes at the end to see what ingredients can be omitted or substituted.

This recipe is very easy to make and should be served soon after cooking.  Left overs can be refrigerated, in fact it tastes even better the next day!

I serve Chicken Marsala with garlic mashed potatoes or my cousin’s “poor man’s pasta” the recipe for that is at the bottom of this post.

The Best Chicken Marsala

Ingredients:

1 lb. mushrooms
4 tbls. butter
2 tbls. minced garlic
1 cup Marsala wine
1 tsp. corn starch dissolved in 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken tenderloins, pounded to 1″ thickness
2 tbls. olive oil
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. ground sea salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
10 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
Fresh parsley chopped

Directions:

1.  Wash mushrooms and pat dry.  Slice into thin slices.

2.  Melt 2 tbls. butter in large sauce pan over medium heat.  Add sliced mushrooms and cook until golden brown, about 5-10 minutes.

3.  Add garlic and wine to the mushrooms.  Lower heat and gently simmer until wine reduces, about 15 minutes.

4.  Add cream, corn starch, and sea salt.  It should thicken slightly.  If it’s too thick add more wine to desired consistency, but not more than another 1/2 cup.  Set aside. *

5.  Combine flour, ground sea salt, black pepper, and garlic powder in a shallow bowl.

6.  Heat oil and 2 tbls. butter in a skillet over medium heat.

7.  Toss chicken tenders in flour; shake off excess; fry in olive oil/butter until cooked thru and is golden brown.

8.  Pour Marsala sauce over chicken.  Add cherry tomatoes.  Simmer until tomatoes are soft, but not mushy.

9.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.

* For thinner sauce OMIT heavy cream and corn starch in step 4.  Add salt and set aside.  Cook chicken as directed.  In step 9 BEFORE you sprinkle with parsley stir in 2 more tbls. butter, stir until butter melts.  Sprinkle with parsley.

Poor Man’s Pasta

Ingredients:

1 lb. Pasta
3 tbls. butter
1/4 shredded fresh parmesan cheese

Directions:

1.  Cook pasta as directed on box.

2.  Drain pasta.

3.  Melt butter in skillet over medium heat.

4.  Add cooked pasta.  Toss in butter until pasta is covered.

5.  Add parmesan cheese.  Toss pasta until cheese is evenly distributed.

6.  Serve hot.

The Best Chicken Marsala Recipe
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Servings Prep Time
6 Servings 15 Minutes
Cook Time
30 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 Servings 15 Minutes
Cook Time
30 Minutes
The Best Chicken Marsala Recipe
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6 Servings 15 Minutes
Cook Time
30 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 Servings 15 Minutes
Cook Time
30 Minutes
Ingredients
Servings: Servings
Instructions
Chicken Marsala
  1. Wash mushrooms and pat dry. Slice into thin slices.
  2. Melt 2 tbls. butter in large sauce pan over medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms and cook until golden brown, about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and wine to the mushrooms. Lower heat and gently simmer until wine reduces, about 15 minutes.
  4. Add cream, corn starch, and sea salt. It should thicken slightly. If it's too thick add more wine to desired consistency, but not more than another 1/2 cup. Set aside.
  5. Combine flour, ground sea salt, black pepper, and garlic powder in a shallow bowl.
  6. Heat oil and 2 tbls. butter in a skillet over medium heat.
  7. Toss chicken tenders in flour; shake off excess; fry in olive oil/butter until cooked thru and is golden brown.
  8. Pour Marsala sauce over chicken. Add cherry tomatoes. Simmer until tomatoes are soft, but not mushy.
  9. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.
Poor Man's Pasta
  1. Cook pasta as directed on box.
  2. Drain pasta.
  3. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat.
  4. Add cooked pasta. Toss in butter until pasta is covered.
  5. Add parmesan cheese. Toss pasta until cheese is evenly distributed.
  6. Serve hot.
Recipe Notes

For thinner sauce OMIT heavy cream and corn starch in step 4.  Add salt and set aside.  Cook chicken as directed.  In step 9 BEFORE you sprinkle with parsley stir in 2 more tbls. butter, stir until butter melts.  Sprinkle with parsley.

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Snowball Cookies – Without Nuts

Snowball Cookies – Without Nuts

Snowball Cookies are also called Mexican Wedding Cookies and Russian Tea Cakes. What I love the most of these cookies is the texture and the fluffiness, not too sweet powdered sugar coating. My mother baked snowballs during Christmas, New Year and other special occasions.

Snowballs comfort me whenever I’m sad, my mom gave me those when I’m upset and crying. It makes me feel better and happy.

This is my version of Snowball Cookies also called Mexican Wedding Cookies and also called Russian Tea Cakes. Enjoy!!!

 

Ingredients:

2 cups butter “2 sticks”, soft. I used salted

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup powdered sugar

+ 2 cups powdered sugar (for coating)

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix butter & powdered sugar together using a large mixing bowl and add in vanilla extract.

Add the flour & mix until soft dough ball formed.

Roll the dough into 1″ balls & place on ungreased cookie sheet (I used a nonstick baking mat).

Bake for about 9 minutes or until cookies are set but not brown.

Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes then roll in a bowl of powdered sugar.

Place on cooling rack to cool and roll in powdered sugar again.

Serve,

Share with your family and friends,

Enjoy!!!

Snowball Cookies - Without Nuts
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Snowball Cookies - Without Nuts
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Mix butter & powdered sugar together using a large mixing bowl and add in vanilla extract.
  3. Add the flour & mixed until soft dough ball formed.
  4. Roll the dough into 1" balls & place on ungreased cookie sheet (I used a nonstick baking mat).
  5. Bake for about 9 minutes or until cookies are set but not brown.
  6. Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes then roll in a bowl of powdered sugar.
  7. Place on cooling rack to cool and roll in powdered sugar again.
  8. Serve,
  9. Share with your family and friends,
  10. Enjoy!!!
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