How-To Cook Beets

I love love love beets. I am so sad I spent the first 27 years of my life never having tasted them. What a waste! I definitely have a lot of beet eating catching up to do. So to get started I thought I needed to learn how to cook them at home. That way I could use them as snacks and in salads more frequently. I did a little research and learned that there are many different ways to prepare beets. You can bake, boil, roast or even steam them. I picked the two methods I thought would possibly suit my cooking style and decided to do some trial runs to see which way I liked them best. I chose to boil one batch and roast the other. Here are the processes. [Read more…]

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Basic French Toast

French toast is by far my favorite breakfast food of all time. In fact, it is a strong contender for my favorite food in general. When I was little my Grandpa Roger would make it for me every time I visited him. I loved going to his apartment on the weekends. It was a nice little escape from the stressful day-to-day of a 9-year-old. To this day, every time I eat french toast I think of him. Needless to say, I have eaten a lot of french toast in my day. Enough to know what I like and what I don’t like. You would think that somebody that knows exactly what kind of french toast they like would know exactly how to make it, but french toast is harder than you think. There are so many factors: The type of bread you use; How much milk you add to your egg mixture (custard); Do you use cinnamon and vanilla; How long you let the bread soak in the custard; How long you cook it for and on what heat level; How evenly your skillet cooks. The variables are endless and each yields different results. So to the drawing board I went, to try to figure out my favorite french toast method. I experimented with many different techniques and think I have settled on one that I am happy with.

We are not fancy bread type people, so I tend to use basic wheat sandwich bread, because it is what we have in the house. I am more of a thin crispy bread, sightly “overcooked” kind of french toast person rather than a thick soggy/wet french toast girl, so I don’t let the bread sit in the custard for too long. I start with cooking it on the stove until it is a nice even golden brown on both sides, and then I add it to the oven to get and even crisper crust, while maintaining just the right amount of moisture in the center. I also love cinnamon, so sometimes I can be a little heavy-handed in that department. It can be hit or miss, depending on the stove and pan performance and my level of patience, but overall it is the closest I have gotten to the delowcious french toast of my childhood. When it comes down to making it, really I just eyeball everything, which is another reason I get different results each time. But if I had to come up with a recipe, this is what I would say:

Ingredients

  • Whole wheat bread
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup milk (Sometimes a little more, because I eyeball it and don’t like my french toast super eggy)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon (If I was being honest, I probably use an entire tablespoon.)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (A little goes a long way, so be careful!)
  • Butter

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat eggs in a bowl large enough to dip bread into. Add milk, cinnamon and vanilla and mix together.

Dip bread into mixture and let soak for 5-10 seconds. Flip and repeat.

Melt butter in a hot skillet set to medium-high and place bread into skillet. Let brown on each side (about 2-3 minutes – depending on your skillet and how brown you want your bread) and then place directly on the oven rack (or on a backing sheet with a cooling rack placed on top of it) and let cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove and serve immediately.

Notes: What I love about the stove to oven method, is that you can cook in bulk much easier. Make all your french toast on the stovetop and then add them to the oven at the same time so they can be served piping hot all at once! The only thing worse than soggy undercooked french toast, is cold crispy french toast.

  • Recipe Yields: 4-5 pieces

Egg in the Hole

Last summer my cousin, Tyler, made me this awesome breakfast called Egg in the Hole. Sounds a little bizarre and possibly a little perverted if you have “that” kind of mind, but don’t worry, there is nothing dirty about this recipe. Basically, it is a piece of bread with a hole cut out of the center, filled with an egg served over easy. It seemed simple enough to make. I mean come on, if my 19-year-old male cousin can pull it off, I think I can handle it. With a little practice, it has turned out to be a huge success in the Grasso household. The Hubby requests them every weekend for breakfast. My favorite part about this recipe is using the extra cut out piece of bread to make a little piece of jam covered toast on the side. No need to be wasteful!

Ingredients

  • Whole wheat bread (one piece per serving)
  • Eggs (one per serving)
  • Butter
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions

Turn on the oven broiler.

Cut a hole out of your bread about 3 inches in diameter. (You can use the top of a small glass or a cookie cutter if you have one.) Lightly butter each side of the bread. and place in a heated skillet set to medium high. Brown one side and flip.

Crack egg inside the hole. (Be careful not to break the yolk.) Sprinkle a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper over the egg. Cook until bread is browned underneath and egg whites are almost cooked through.

Place in oven until reached desired doneness. I like my yolk a little gooey, almost solid, and the Hubby likes his yolk a little  more on the runny side. Everyone is different, but no matter how you make it, it turns out delowcious!

Notes: As I say with many of my projects and recipes, have fun with it. Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter if you are making them for someone you love, or even a pumpkin or christmas tree shape for special holidays. Get creative, the hole does not always have to be round!

Homemade Pizza {in Singapore}

Homemade Pizza ~ via The EGGEureka! I found fresh basil in Singapore! I had heard rumors that you could find it at stores such as Cold Storage, but I am a Fair Price shopper. It’s locations are more convenient and for the most part it tends to be less expensive. The only problem is only certain Fair Price’s carry the different ingredients I love. The Jurong Point Fair Price has amazing french baguettes. They are better than the stuff I find at some grocery stores in the states, no joke. The Clementi Mall Fair Price has a good fruit selection and now the Jurong East Fair Price has fresh basil. Slowly but surely, Singapore is becoming more and more livable. Unfortunately, as we discover the tricks that make living in another country easier, we simultaneously start to miss home, family and friends more as well. However this pizza I made for lunch today makes it all a little more bearable… I call it food therapy, which can me dangerous, so be careful now. Emotional eating is never good, but if you are going to do it, why not soothe your woes with something fresh, healthy and most of all delowcious. I know what you are thinking, “Elizabeth, pizza is not a healthy food.” Yeah, yeah yeah, I know. Not usually, but this time it is different. I made my pizza on a whole wheat tortilla, used a minimal amount of cheese (just a sprinkle to lightly cover the sauce), garnished it with fresh veggies (tomatoes and fresh basil) and seasoned it with garlic powder and crushed red pepper. The thin crispy tortilla lowers the normal high carb count of pizza and makes it more like an italian tostada. The garlic powder and crushed red pepper add tons of flavor without tons of sodium. And I don’t have to tell you what the veggies do. Unless I am missing something, nothing about that screams bad for you. In fact, it all seems pretty healthy.  Here is how I made my margarita tostada…

Ingredients

  • 1 whole wheat tortilla
  • 1 tablespoons of preferred pizza sauce (spaghetti sauce will work)
  • 2 teaspoons of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
  • 4 red grape tomatoes (cut is 4ths)
  • 4 yellow grape tomatoes (cut in 4ths)
  • 8 fresh basil leaves (chiffonade)
  • 1 handful of grated Italian cheese mix
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

  1. Spread sauce over tortilla.
  2. Sprinkle with garlic powder to taste.
  3. Cover with cheese.
  4. Add crushed red pepper. (I like to add the red pepper before I cook my pizza. It really brings out the flavor.)
  5. Scatter  sliced tomatoes on the tortilla.
  6. Sprinkle with fresh basil.
  7. Drizzle olive oil over top.

Place pizza directly on the middle oven rack and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until tortilla has reached your desired crispiness.

Cut in 4’s and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Grilled Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

Let me start off by saying, grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are possibly the most amazing sandwiches since the invention of sliced bread, which is fitting since sliced bread is one of the 3 very important ingredients necessary for its existence. With that said, there really is no recipe when it comes to making this sandwich. You basically make a PB&J and then grill it the way you would a grilled cheese. It is pretty phenomenal and a must try. It gives the american staple sandwich a little something extra that you would never expect. By toasting the bread, melting the peanut butter and warming the jelly, it almost becomes a dessert. And who would not want dessert for lunch or even dinner for that matter? However, there is one rule you that you must abide by when making this delowcious sandwich. DO NOT skimp on the ingredients. I don’t care if you are a lotta peanut butter and a little jelly person, or a lotta jelly with a little peanut butter person. In this scenario you are going all out with both. The more the better my friends, so load her up and throw another sanny on the grill, because Mama’s hungry!

Easy Asian Stir-Fry

When we go out to eat in Singapore our options are pretty much limited to Chinese, Indian, Thai or Malaysian. I pictured home cooked meals to be just that, a reminder of home and an escape from all of the curry and steamed rice. However, home cooked flavors and ingredients are not only hard to come by, but pretty darn expensive. So bring on the soy sauce and sesame oil, because they are dime a dozen. This next recipe is simple and easy, but packs a ton of delowcious flavor. Sure it’s Asian flavor, but it’s still good. Plus it looks pretty, if I do say so myself. Kudos to me!

Ingredients

Stir-Fry:

  • Chicken (or whatever protein you prefer)
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 carrot, cut into chips
  • 2 bell peppers (1 red, 1 yellow)
  • 1 cup mushroom
  • 2 broccoli stalks, cut into crowns
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • ½ cup of red wine
  • Salt
  • Olive oil

Marinade/Sauce:

  • ⅓ cup dry cooking sherry
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil (use chili sesame oil for a kick)
  • 1 tablespoon of teriyaki marinade/sauce (optional)
  • ¼ cup scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Directions

As a Marinade:

Cut chicken into strips and marinate for 2-4 hours. ( I marinated mine overnight and it was quite flavorful. Possibly a little too flavorful, but it was still good)

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Add chicken and cook until no longer pink in the middle, about 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove and keep warm.

Cook the veggies in two separate batches. Olive oil to pan and and add mushrooms. Allow to cook for 2 -3 minutes until the juices are released and then add onions, garlic and salt. Allow to brown. Deglaze pan with red wine. Remove from heat.

In a separate pan add bell pepper and clove of garlic to 2 tablespoons of olive oil and let cook for 2 minutes. Add broccoli, carrots and ginger. Cook to preferred tenderness.

Add chicken and mushrooms/onion mixture back to the pan and pour in remaining marinade and heat through.

Serve over steamed white rice, or brown if you prefer.

As a Sauce:

If you’re skipping the protein, throw sauce in over your veggies right before you’re ready to take them off the flame. Just enough time to heat through. This makes sure the sauce doesn’t just burn off during cooking.

Serve over steamed white rice, or brown if you prefer.

Notes: Add more garlic and ginger if you want a little more kick. Sometimes I add some Habanero peppers for some spice. You can also add some pineapple if you want a sweet and spicy flavor or mushrooms to add an earthy flare. Feel free to add veggies in whatever order you want them cooked. I like my onions and bell peppers pretty well done and my broccoli and carrots pretty crisp, so I used the above order, but adjust to your liking. You can even toss them in all at once if you are looking for a meal that is babysitting free. 

Sweet Crescent Rolls

One word describes these little buggers… Mmm! I would totally make these again, and again, and again, and maybe even one or two more times after that. They are super simple, and totally tasty. However, while eating them the Hubby and I did have a revelation. Add apples to make them more like little personal sized apple pies. I will totally try that next time.

Ingredients

  • Package of crescent rolls
  • Butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the cinnamon and sugar together and mix well. Place the unrolled crescent rolls onto an ungreased cookie sheet (I used my silpat mat). Spread a layer of butter on each triangle; top with cinnamon and sugar mixture. Roll from the bottom of the triangle to the point.

Place in the oven and bake for 10-11 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve while hot. Enjoy.

Happy Birthday to Me!

pink lemonade pie bigger

“Go, go, go shorty it’s your birfday. We gon’ party like it’s your birthday.” Yep that’s right, it is my birthday and I will cry if I want to. Unless, somebody makes me some Pink Lemonade Cake. Well technically they call it a pie, but it’s my birthday and I want to call it a cake, so a cake it is. Doesn’t it look delish? I love how pretty it is! I am not a big pie person in general, but my uncle made me an apple pie for my pre-birthday dinner and it was not half bad. Normally he cooks us Sunday Pasta dinner and I have to say he has perfected the art of Italian cooking to a T. Recently he has added pies to his repertoire and it was pretty darn tasty. I will have to pass this recipe along to him and see what he thinks. Hopefully the whole pink thing won’t throw him.

Ingredients

The Crust:

  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter

The Filling:

  • 1 8-ounce packet of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • ¾ cup pink lemonade concentrate (not mixed with water)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
  • AmeriColor Red Red food coloring or equal

Directions

The Crust:

  1. Mix the crumbs, sugar, and butter in a nine-inch pie pan or spring form pan. Mix until the crumbs have absorbed the butter and the mixture is uniform.
  2. Press the crumbs across the bottom of the pan and up the sides.
  3. Bake for eight to ten minutes at 350 degrees.

The Filling:

  1. Using the whip attachment and your stand-type mixer or with a handheld electric mixer, mix the cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk together on medium high-speed until the mixture is smooth. (If you place the sweetened condensed milk in the bowl first, the cream cheese will not stick to the bowl and you will have little need to scrape the sides.)
  2. Add the lemonade concentrate and lemon juice and continue beating. Color with red food coloring as desired.
  3. Pour the mixture into the pie shell and place it in the freezer while you mix the topping.

Wait wait wait. Look what I stumbled upon… An actual Pink Lemonade Layer Cake that looks pretty awesome as well. Now that I found the actual cake version, you are allowed to call the above recipe a pie. See how that works? The birthday girl gets whatever she wants. However, when it comes to these sweeties, I am not quite sure which one I want to eat on my actual birthday, plus I am not a big fan of decisions, so I think I will take both please.

Ingredients

  • One box of strawberry cake mix (plus oil, water and eggs as directed on box)
  • 8oz. Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 packet of Kool-Aid Lemonade (0.23oz.)
  • Yellow food coloring gel, as desired for color
  • 2 cups Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme
  • 8 oz. Cool Whip Topping
  • Fresh strawberries to garnish

Directions

  1. Make cake according to box and bake in 2- 9 inch round cake pans as directed. Turn finished cakes over on cake racks and allow to cool completely.
  2. Cream together cream cheese, lemonade and yellow food coloring until smooth.
  3. Mix marshmallow creme in and then mix in Cool Whip until completely smooth. Refrigerate until cake is cooled and cut.
  4. Cut each cake layer in half.
  5. Alternating layers of cake with layers of filling, assemble cake.  End with layer of filling.
  6. Top with sliced strawberries.
  7. Refrigerate and serve chilled.

“Fried” Pickles

fried-picklesSince For the Love of Cooking’s delowcious recipe, Baked Onion Rings, was such a hit, I thought I would search for similar waste friendly “fried” recipes to bring to you guys. I use the term “fried” loosely, because these pickles are actually broiled in the oven to make them a tad healthier than the fried version. Personally I have not tried them yet, because I have been a little busy preparing to leave the country. Right now I am in Cali dropping off BooBoo Kitty with my family, because they are going to watch her while I am off gallivanting around Asia. Looks like the EGG is going to become the EGG Roll for about 3 months. Possible 6 if we are lucky. I will definitely update you more in-depth with a Singapore dedicated post once I’ve got my life a little more figured out, but I am definitely feeling the EGG Roll idea. Genius!

Ingredients

  • 1 jar of pickle slices (we like large, thick slices of Claussen dill pickles)
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅓ cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 ½ cups panko bread crumbs
  • Ranch dressing + hot sauce for dipping

Directions

  1. Turn oven broiler on high.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and flour. Add Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, garlic powder, Cajun seasoning, and pepper. Mix well.
  3. Place panko bread crumbs in a shallow dish. Dunk each pickle slice into the egg mixture, than dredge it in the panko bread crumbs.
  4. Place coated pickles on a rack set above a baking sheet and sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Place pan in the middle rack of the oven. Broil for about 3 minutes on each side.
  5. Serve with Ranch dressing and a dash of hot sauce.

Notes: I am sure there are tons of “fried” recipes out there that we can convert to baking/broiling methods. Hmmmm Let me think…

Salsa Sisters

I love the Pioneer Woman. We always seem to be on the same page when it comes to our taste buds, and her very particular pallet for salsa is no different. She despises store-bought versions and loves a little spice and a lot of cilantro. I am telling you, we may have been separated at birth, except she is a little older than me. Whether we are separated sisters, soul sisters or just salsa sisters, she has made the perfect restaurant style/homemade salsa I have ever had, and it is so easy. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of steps (20 to be exact), but they are as simple as can be and take no time at all. [Read more…]