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…]

Watermelon Sours in a Watermelon Keg

This post is a twofer. It is a mix of Friday’s 5 o’clock somewhere cocktail recipe, and a fun How-To tutorial on making your own watermelon keg. Sounds fun to me and brings a whole new meaning to throwing a watermelon bash! This is definitely on my two do list once I get back to the states. First lets learn how to make the keg…

Supplies

Directions

Prepare your watermelon by cutting a lid from the top and scooping out the fruit (save the fruit to use later to make the drinks). Use an apple corer to drill a hole just slightly smaller than the keg shank. Attach the shank and faucet and you’re ready to add your cocktail.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups watermelon chunks, pureed
  • 4 oz Alizé Red Passion, or any other fruit-flavored liqueur
  • 8 oz gin
  • 2 cups sour mix
  • Sparkling rosé
  • Lime slices, for garnish

Directions

After pureeing 4 cups of watermelon chunks, strain. Stir in your fruit-flavored liqueur, gin and sour mix. Chill. Add sparkling rosé before serving. Garnish with lime slice and enjoy!

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. 

Dragon Fruit Salad

Yesterday I posted about some  delowcious dragon fruit and how awesome it is. Well today I made a fruit salad out of it with some pineapple and it tasted fantastical. The pineapple was so sweet and juicy that it really gave the dragon fruit the kick it needed to make it taste as good as it looks. I will definitely be making this again and will probably add some other types a fruit to add a little more flavor and a lot more color to the mix. Maybe some grapes and definitely some watermelon. Ohhhh I’m so excited, I may have to go jump on the train and go to grocery store right now! On second thought, never mind, I can wait until tomorrow.

Delowcious Dragon Fruit

Before arriving in Singapore I had never seen or heard of a Dragon Fruit. I know I lead a sheltered life, but I am working on it. On our first trip to the grocery store we did not buy much… We were sorta just checking things out, but we did buy a Dragon Fruit just because it looked so cool. The Hubby is a sucker for anything weird-looking and I am a sucker for anything pink. Dragon Fruit definitely fit the bill. When we got cut that sucker open and were very surprised with what we found. When you first cut into it looks like cookies and cream ice cream, but don’t be fooled by its appearance, it definitely does not taste like ice cream. The texture is like that of a kiwi. The taste is also similar to the kiwi, but much milder and more subtle. It actually does not have much flavor at all, but would be great in fruit salad. It’s spongy texture would soak up and compliment any fruit you combined it with. Plus it’s health benefits are endless and quite unbelievable.

Dragon Fruit Health Benefits

  • High in Antioxidants
  • Lowers Blood Glucose Levels
  • Controls Blood Sugar Levels
  • Rich in Minerals and Fiber
  • Aids in Digestion
  • Neutralizes Toxic Substances (heavy metals and chemicals)
  • High Levels of Vitamin B3
  • Helps Lower Bad Cholesterol
  • Smooths and Moisturizes Skin
  • Good Source of Phosphorus and Calcium
  • Reinforces Bones
  • Aids in Tissue Formation
  • Aids in Healthy Teeth
  • High Levels of Vitamin C
  • Aids Healing of Cuts and Bruises
  • Enhances Immune System
  • Full of Vitamin B1 and B2
  • Increases Energy
  • Aids in Metabolizing Carbohydrates

How to Cut a Dragon Fruit

Notes: You can find Dragon Fruit at your local Asian market or at Whole Foods between the months of August and December. You can also peel the skin after you’ve made the initial cut. Surprisingly it is very easy to peel and it ensures not wasting any of the delowcious fruit. Enjoy!

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.