Friday, January 30, 2009

Stuffed French Toast at home

I love stuffed french toast at IHOP but we are really trying to cut back on our eating out. I know I can make it cheaper. Plus we can have it more often because the closest IHOP to us is almost an hour away.

It is so simple, it's crazy I have not made it before. If you love it in the restaurant, give it a try.

For the custard:
Eggs and cream. Just like any other french toast. How much french toast you are making will determine how much eggs and cream you will need. I also put a splash of vanilla in my custard.

For the stuffed toast:
I used brown sugar bread made by pepperidge farms. You could use any bread you like, but this added another flavor to the french toast. Spread a layer of cream cheese on each slice of bread. Top one slice with jam. You can make flavor you love depending on what ever jam you want to use. We love strawberries, so we used strawberry jam. Top with a slice of bread and dunk into the custard mix.

Cook it on a griddle until it's browned and crispy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside. Top with powdered sugar and you can syrup or more jam.

We served this with sausage and grits. Three of us had this meal for the cost of one stuffed french toast meal at IHOP.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chicken Noodle Soup for a snowy day

I live in eastern North Carolina where we do not get snow normally. We may get a few flakes during the winter, but it is rare for us to have accumulation. This week was one of those odd times where we actually got real snow. In our area, they are saying we received right around 5 inches.

What could be better than soup for a snow day? (Other than hot chocolate when you come in from playing) We love chicken noodle soup, so I started it early so it could cook and be delicious.

When I roast chicken, I save the bones and when I get a pot full, I boil them to make my own chicken broth. I had two gallon bags in the freezer I pulled out. I added sliced carrots and celery to the broth so they could cook and flavor the broth. I also added some chicken I had pulled from those same roasted chickens I had in the freezer. Those things warmed slowly in the broth because I kept it on low all afternoon.

After coming in from playing outside and warming up with hot chocolate, I turned the heat up on the burner and brought the broth to a boil. I added a box of orzo to the broth and cooked it until it was tender.

It is so nice to have items on hand in the freezer and pantry to make a delicious dinner. I loved not having to rush in from the fun we were having in the snow to make dinner.

Now the snow is melted, but we have wonderful memories of the snowball fights and sledding we tried to do. I must say, with as much fun as we had, I hope this is the only snow storm of the season for us.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Baked Ravioli with Italian Sausage

This is a great week night dinner. It is hearty and delicious, and great for these cold nights we have been having lately. We love lasagna but who has the time on a week night to put one together. Using cheese ravioli baked in spaghetti sauce gives you a lot of the same tastes of lasagna with little work.

The brand we love best is Buitoni found in the refrigerated section of the store. They taste much better than the frozen or shelf stable ones. For the lasagna taste, I use the four cheese ravioli which is filled with Parmesan, Romano, ricotta and mozzarella.

I used the recipe from Great Food Fast.


Serves 4 to 6

* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* Coarse salt and ground pepper
* 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme, or oregano
* 1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes
* 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
* 2 pounds store-bought ravioli
* 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
* 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and season with salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add thyme and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, breaking up tomatoes with spoon, until sauce is thickened and reduced to about 5 1/2 cups, 20 to 25 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, cook ravioli in a large pot of boiling salted water just until they float to the top (pasta will continue to cook in oven). Drain pasta; return to pot.
3. Toss sauce with pasta. Pour pasta into a large gratin dish or 9-by-13-inch baking dish, and sprinkle with cheeses. Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

You can also use your favorite pasta sauce. This night, I used some sauce I had in the freezer so it really did make for a quick and easy meal. Also for my carnivore husband, I threw Italian sausages on the grill while the ravioli baked.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Chicken and Beef Stir Fry

We are trying to cut out a lot of restaurant eating because while we do not eat out that often, I feel guilty when we spend $40 on a meal I can easily make at home. There was a time I used to make stir fry pretty frequently but for what ever reason, I stopped. I am not sure why because we both love it and it is healthy unless you add a lot of sauces to it. Another good thing about stir fry is you can use whatever is on hand, so it does not have to be the same thing every time you serve it.

This stir fry went a little something like this:

3 chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1 sirloin, thinly sliced
snow peas

Marinate the meat in hoisin and soy sauce. With your pan smoking hot, add a little vegetable oil and cook the meat quickly and stir constantly. Remove the meat from the pan and add the vegetables, cooking them the same way. Add a little toasted sesame oil, more hoisin, and soy sauce. Mix about a tablespoon of cornstarch in 1 cup of beef broth. Mix it all together adding the meat back to the pan.

Serve over jasmine rice.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Chicken Flautas

We lived in San Antonio, Texas for a few years and while we always loved Mexican food, it became a staple to us there. I was amazed when the grocery stores had tortilla makers in the store where you could watch and then buy hot, fresh tortillas. We would usually buy two packs and eat part of one on our way home. We were in heaven.

We tried to visit as many taquerias and try many different meals there. One of my favorite things I found out our most visited taqueria was Flautas. Crispy fried corn tortillas filled with shredded chicken which was topped with lettuce, tomato, sour cream, guacamole, and salsa.

They are quite simple to make.

I marinated chicken breasts in my favorite mexican flavors then grilled it. When it came off of the grill, I shredded it and filled corn tortillas. I rolled them and secured them with toothpicks. They are then deep fried until golden brown.

Serve them 4-6 per person and top with your favorite things. Serve with refried beans and rice, and ice cold margarita, turn on some mariachi music and you will be transported to a taqueria of your own.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Candied Cocktail Wieners

It was only three of us hanging out after the pickle drop on New Year's Eve but we decided to make it festive and still have lots of party food. One new thing we tried was Candied Cocktail Wieners. They are easy and so yummy. The three of us ate all of them and that was with all the other appetizers we had.

Simple. Delicious. We'll be looking for an excuse to make them again soon.

Wrap cocktail wieners in half a slice of precooked bacon. I used precooked to cut down on the grease and to make sure the bacon got crispy. Roll them in brown sugar and sprinkle a little extra on top. Make sure to use reynold's release because it is sticky and would be a mess to clean up. Cook them about 15 minutes at 350.

However many you think you need, make at least that many more. Seriously, you'll thank me later.